ADAPT researchers partner on groundbreaking Horizon Europe project focussed on fighting online manipulation and interference

07 March 2024

ATHENA is a €3.1million Horizon Europe project involving 14 partners from across Europe.

Researchers from ADAPT, Dr. Brendan Spillane (UCD) and Prof. Owen Conlan (TCD), have announced their involvement in a new Horizon Europe project named ATHENA. This €3.1 million Horizon Europe project, titled “An exposition on THe forEign informatioN mAnipulation and interference,” aims to detect and analyse disinformation associated with Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI). The work of the ATHENA project is crucial for the protection of democratic processes in Europe in light of recent FIMI campaigns using disinformation and the surge in cyber-attacks originating from countries like Russia and China.

The project’s primary goal is to understand the Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures employed by perpetrators in these activities and to provide policymakers and stakeholders with ATHENA the necessary tools for combating FIMI and disinformationThis will enable the project to develop countermeasures and evaluate their impact.

ADAPT researchers contributions to ATHENA include in depth case study explorations of known FIMI campaigns in Europe, the creation of a FIMI detection platform including a toolbox for analysis, a knowledge graph to store the data, and a dynamic dashboard to enable European policy makers to monitor FIMI activities to devise effective counter-strategies. ATHENA will additionally conduct a comparative legal and regulatory analysis of how eight EU Member States address FIMI, identifying areas where policy enhancement is feasible. The consortium will devise an accessible questionnaire for public utilisation, enabling individuals to recognise encounters with FIMI in their daily lives.

Dr Brendan Spillane highlighted ADAPT’s significant experience of research into disinformation:

“The research being undertaken by ADAPT researchers in ATHENA builds on their coordination from another Horizon Europe VIGILANT project ( which will equip European Police Authorities with technology to detect, analyse and combat disinformation linked to criminal activities, and a previous H2020 project called PROVENANCE which developed technology to warn end users of disinformation when using the Internet or social media.

Engagement with stakeholders is a key aspect of the project, as ATHENA will engage a diverse range of stakeholders in interviews and workshops. Additionally, ATHENA will focus on knowledge dissemination and training in universities and schools, amplifying widespread awareness of FIMI and fostering defences against it.

Dr. David Wright from Trilateral Research, coordinator of the Project said: “The ATHENA project is not just a response to current threats but a proactive step towards a more secure digital future for Europe”.

“Disinformation spread as part of FIMI campaigns has the potential to negatively impact societal values and undermine political processes. ATHENA will develop advanced AI-informed countermeasures and playbooks to help policy makers combat FIMI.”, said Prof. Owen Conlan from Trinity College Dublin and ADAPT.

ATHENA involves 14 partners including Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH, Greece), the University of Cyprus (UCY), the Bavarian Police Academy (Germany), the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), Laurea University of Applied Sciences (Finland), Fundació Eurecat (Spain), Storyzy (France), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), the European Organisation for Security (Belgium), Maldita (Spain), EU-Disinfo (Belgium) and University College Dublin (Ireland).