Category: fake news

June 10, 2019 Off

To detect fake news, this AI first learned to write it

By Jill T Frey

One of the biggest problems in media today is so-called “fake news,” which is so highly pernicious in part because it superficially resembles the real thing. AI tools promise to help identify it, but in order for it to do so, researchers have found that the best way is for that AI to learn to create fake news itself — a double-edged sword, though perhaps not as dangerous as it sounds.

Grover is a new system created by the University of Washington and Allen Institute for AI (AI2) computer scientists that is extremely adept at writing convincing fake news on myriad topics and as many styles — and as a direct consequence is also no slouch at spotting it. The paper describing the model is available here.

The idea of a fake news generator isn’t new — in fact, OpenAI made a splash recently by announcing that its own … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

Twitter bags deep learning talent behind London startup, Fabula AI

By Jill T Frey

Twitter has just announced it has picked up London-based Fabula AI. The deep learning startup has been developing technology to try to identify online disinformation by looking at patterns in how fake stuff vs genuine news spreads online — making it an obvious fit for the rumor-riled social network.

Social media giants remain under increasing political pressure to get a handle on online disinformation to ensure that manipulative messages don’t, for example, get a free pass to fiddle with democratic processes.

Twitter says the acquisition of Fabula will help it build out its internal machine learning capabilities — writing that the UK startup’s “world-class team of machine learning researchers” will feed an internal research group it’s building out, led by Sandeep Pandey, its head of ML/AI engineering.

This research group will focus … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Facebook found hosting masses of far right EU disinformation networks

By Jill T Frey

A multi-month hunt for political disinformation spreading on Facebook in Europe suggests there are concerted efforts to use the platform to spread bogus far right propaganda to millions of voters ahead of a key EU vote which kicks off tomorrow.

Following the independent investigation, Facebook has taken down a total of 77 pages and 230 accounts from Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain and Poland — which had been followed by an estimated 32 million people and generated 67 million ‘interactions’ (i.e. comments, likes, shares) in the last three months alone.

The bogus mainly far-right disinformation networks were not identified by Facebook — but had been reported to it by campaign group Avaaz — which says the fake pages had more Facebook followers and interactions than all the main EU far right and anti-EU parties combined.

“The results are overwhelming: the disinformation networks upon which Facebook acted had more interactions (13

Read the rest
May 3, 2019 Off

When it comes to elections, Facebook moves slow, may still break things

By Jill T Frey

This week, Facebook invited a small group of journalists — which didn’t include TechCrunch — to look at the “war room” it has set up in Dublin, Ireland, to help monitor its products for election-related content that violates its policies. (“Time and space constraints” limited the numbers, a spokesperson told us when he asked why we weren’t invited.)

Facebook announced it would be setting up this Dublin hub — which will bring together data scientists, researchers, legal and community team members, and others in the organization to tackle issues like fake news, hate speech and voter suppression — back in January. The company has said it has nearly 40 teams working on elections across its family of apps, without breaking out the number of staff it has dedicated to countering political disinformation. 

We have been told that there would be “no news items” during the closed tour — which, … Read the rest

April 27, 2019 Off

Samantha Bee: Canadian, comedian, and defender of the free press

By Jill T Frey

The only job named in and protected by the U.S. constitution is journalism. But when it’s under attack from fake news, misinformation, and the supposed defender-of-the-constitution-in-chief, who looks out for the press?

Reporters have an unlikely ally in the late night comedy circuit.

Late night television has a steady stream of male comedians ready to cursorily pick apart the news of the day, often mocking the dispatches of the press — typically the government — before they turn to a light hearted interview with a celebrity to round off the night.

But not Samantha Bee. The Canadian-born comedian and former ‘Daily Show’ correspondent, is the only female comedian with a late-night show, Full Frontal, and doesn’t waste a second not holding the powers to account. Her show, which films and airs on TBS every Wednesday, offers a weekly record of the abuses of the government by bringing both the … Read the rest

April 23, 2019 Off

Facebook has quietly removed three bogus far-right networks in Spain ahead of Sunday’s elections

By Jill T Frey

Facebook has quietly removed three far-right networks that were engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior intended to spread politically divisive content in Spain ahead of a general election in the country, which takes place on Sunday.

The networks had a total reach of almost 1.7 million followers and had generated close to 7.4 million interactions in the past three months alone, according to analysis by the independent group that identified the bogus activity on Facebook’s platform.

The fake far-right activity was apparently not picked up by Facebook.

Instead, activist not-for-profit Avaaz unearthed the inauthentic content, and presented its findings to the social networking giant earlier this month, on April 12. In a press release issued today, the campaigning organization said Facebook has now removed the fakes — apparently vindicating its findings.

“Facebook did a great job in acting fast, but these networks are likely just the tip of the disinformation iceberg … Read the rest