Joana Gonçalves de Sá, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Data Science and Policy Research Group at Nova School of Business & Economics (Nova SBE), was awarded a € 1,5 million Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for the project Fake News and Real People - Using Big Data to Understand Human Behavior (FARE).
Joana Gonçalves de Sá uses experimental and computing techniques (big data and complexity systems) in the study of decision making.
Over the next five years, this funding will allow Joana Gonçalves de Sá to continue to develop multidisciplinary research that advances our understanding of the decision-making process and the mistakes we have made, using fake news sharing as a model.
«The so-called digital revolution and the amount of information generated by our online activity is giving us, for the first time, the opportunity to study human behavior on an almost universal scale. But this recent surge in online activity, coupled with low digital literacy, individual consumer identification and huge profits from online ad revenues, has created a perfect storm for the so-called Fake News epidemic, with unknown consequences yet to come». Joana Gonçalves de Sá believes that, «although false information is not new in human history, recent events from the anti-vaccination movement to Brexit raise serious concerns about its current influence and the manipulation to which we are subjected».
This challenge is interdisciplinary and requires academic research to guide current action requests issued by academics, governmental and non-governmental agencies and social networking platforms as well. FARE will enrich current efforts, which primarily address the spread of fake news from an applied perspective, by providing a theoretical framework for making testable predictions.
ERC Starting Grants support researchers who demonstrate a scientific path of excellence by enabling them to consolidate their scientific career and research group.
Elvira Fortunato, Vice-Rector for Research at NOVA University Lisbon states that «this grant reinforces NOVA University's position in the area of scientific research. We now have 20 of the 104 ERC scholarships awarded in Portugal since the beginning of the program, which represents about 19% nationwide. On the other hand, the promotion and attraction of scientific talent is one of the strategic areas of NOVA University, and this grant clearly confirms this commitment».