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Combating Fake News through Technology

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In recent times, there have been a global outcry to stop fake news. While it’s almost impossible to mitigate the menace of fake news, few technological solutions can minimize this threat. Let’s find out more about these solutions in this article…

Nowadays, fake news is everywhere. One can find fake news in Facebook, Twitter, Google, WhatsApp, and other social media and online news media. There is no question that social media platforms have played a large role in increasing the impact of misinformation over the last decade. Tech companies are trying to fix the fake news problem that gained prominence after the 2016 US presidential election. But it’s far from actually winning the battle, as the fake news phenomenon continues to be a worldwide problem.

It’s in this context that technology should be used to minimize fake news and stop some individuals, groups and organizations to take advantage of social and digital platforms to deceive, mislead, or harm others through creating or disseminating fake news and disinformation.

It is high time that technology firms should invest in technology to find fake news and identify it for users through smart algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). There are innovations in fake news detection that can be used in social media platforms. For instance, fake news detection can be automated, and social media companies should invest in their ability to do so. The public interest algorithms can help in identifying and publicizing fake news posts and therefore be a valuable tool to protect social media users. Likewise, algorithms can also be used to curb the menace of fake news in social media.

Algorithms
Algorithms are powerful tools in automatic detection of fake news. According to Kelly Born of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, social media platforms can down rank or flag dubious digital contents, and find a way to better identify and rank genuine content to improve information-gathering and presentation. For instance, several social media platforms have instituted ‘disputed news’ tags that warn readers and viewers about provocative contents. In other words, this could be information that is outright false where major parties disagree about its genuineness. It’s a way to warn readers about possible inaccuracies in online information.

“From an algorithmic perspective it’s possible for social media sites to recognize that website was only created two weeks ago, therefore it’s probably likely that this is a less trustworthy site,” says Claire Wardle of journalism non-profit First Draft News. Wikipedia is another platform that have implemented this process. Since it publishes crowdsourced material, it is subject to competing claims regarding factual accuracy. It deals with this problem by adding tags to material identifying it as ‘disputed news’.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Language, Automation combined with Big Data can be used to minimize fake news. Artificial Intelligence provides specific advanced features which help us rate the news for authenticity and define it as fake. Some of the techniques through which AI can be used to mitigate fake news are specified below

Score Web Pages : Scoring web pages is a technology brought out by Google. Google takes the accuracy of facts presented to score web pages. This technology has grown significantly as it makes an attempt to understand pages’ context without relying on third-party signals.

Weigh Facts : A Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine can go through the subject of an article or content along with the headline, main body text, and the geo-location. After this process, Artificial Intelligence will then find out if other sites are reporting the same facts. In this way, facts are weighed against reputed media sources.

Predict Reputation : A website’s reputation can be predicted through considering multiple features like domain name and Alexa web rank by using predictive analytics backed combined with Machine Learning

Flagging Sensational Words : When it comes to news items, the headline is the key to capturing the attention of the audience. Artificial Intelligence has been instrumental in discovering and flagging fake news headlines by using keyword analytics.

Blockchain Technology
Many of you are not aware that the blockchain technology can be used to effectively minimize the fake news. Several organizations can consider startups which runs news portal on blockchain technology. As fake news spreads across the Internet, online users question their trust with the media. It is here that blockchain media applications can be used to make sure that the shared and published information is accurate.

Imagine a reddit-style, decentralized community of journalists, writers and users on a portal running under blockchain technology. This platform of people uses a particular token to pay for quality news. Using the wisdom of the crowd, users and even advertisers can rate content and upvote/downvote them as accurate/inaccurate publicly. There can also be independent fact-checkers who will randomly and periodically check the content of the articles and receive rewards on the blockchain, which can then be traded on a crypto exchange.

If an excerpt of news were found to be inaccurate, the person’s “genuine” points would be affected. This platform is likely to be like Steemit, except that it is more news-focused and therefore subjected to professional quality than publishing every news content blindly. In addition to this process, online news portal which run on blockchain technology can use open source to programme what appears on their users’ news feeds and hence we can know if the portal is then transparent, immutable and open to public scrutiny.

In this system, developers can also help by contributing to a better world by collecting a database and then writing even better algorithms on the blockchain that serves the public in the best way. They can opt in to this community and receive the tokens for their rewards.

Online Tools
Before the usage of sophisticated Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, several online tolls were used to combat fake news. The French news media uses the onlinefact-checking service known as CrossCheck to identify and debunk fake news items.

Some of the robust online tools compiled by Forbes are given below

Check is an online tool from Meedan that helps to verify the authenticity of online breaking news.

Spike is a tool used to identify and predict breaking stories and viral stories. This tool analyzes heaps of data from the world of news and predicts what’s going to drive engagement.

Le Decodex from Le Monde is an online database that houses websites that are tagged as fake, real, etc.

Hoaxy is a tool that helps users to identify fake news sites.

Pheme has a unique capability to detect the accuracy of user-generated online content.

Snopes is another web based tool that helps to detect fake stories.

CrowdTangle is a tool that helps discover social content early and monitor content.

The Road Ahead
While fake news rocketed into public consciousness just over the last year, researchers have studied how to counter misinformation for many years. It is still early days, but interdisciplinary approaches incorporating technology and psychological research could yield ways to reduce the damage caused by online misinformation.

We have not yet realized the true potential of Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain in combating fake news. The future looks good for more sophisticated tools that harness the power of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Automation, Blockchain and Big Data to minimize fake news creating havoc in the user world. When we pair all these technologies to combat fake news, I’m pretty optimistic that many good things can be achieved for the world.

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