Fake news is fueled in part by advances in technology — from bots that automatically fabricate headlines and entire stories to computer software that synthesizes Donald Trump’s voice and makes him read tweets to a new video editing app that makes it possible to create authentic-looking videos in which one person’s face is stitched onto another person’s body.
But technology, in the form of artificial intelligence, may also be the key to solving the fake news problem — which has rocked the American political system and led some to doubt the veracity even of reports from long-trusted media outlets.
Experts say AI systems would help fill the gaps left by Snopes, Truth or Fiction, and other online fact-checking outlets, whose human fact-checkers lack the bandwidth to evaluate every article that appears online. These systems could also work with various fake news alert plugins available from Google’s web store, such as the browser extension This is Fake, which uses a red banner to flag debunked news stories on your Facebook newsfeed.
“All of the current systems for tracking fake news are manual, and this is something we need to change as the earlier you can highlight that a story is fake, the easier it is to prevent it going viral,” says Delip Rao, founder of the San Francisco-based AI research company Joostware and organizer of the Fake News Challenge, a competition set up within the AI community to foster development of tools that can reliably spot fake content.
Fighting the Fakers
At last month’s World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, Google and Facebook announced plans to develop AI systems that would notify users about dubious content. Google has floated the idea of a “misinformation detector” browser extension that would alert users if they land on a link deemed untrustworthy.
But while these plans have yet to be put into action, an Israeli startup company called AdVerif.ai has already begun fighting back against the fakers.
“There are reports which are predicting that within three to four years, people in advanced economies will consume more false content than true content, which is really mind-blowing,” says company founder Or Levi. “But because a lot of this content is recycled and repeated in different ways, we believe we can use AI to pinpoint trends which detect it as being fake.”
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