Even in this day of free and easily accessible information our minds are still getting killed daily. The only way to stop it is a massive and concerted effort by us all. What is this scourge i hear you ask. Aids? Gang violence? Terrorism? No. its Fake news.
Fake news is a relatively new phenomena that has found its way into the mainstream consciousness. Being utilised for good and bad. Being used as a way to dismiss any narrative that is not conducive to one’s agenda.
Little white lies and bending of the truth are in fact nothing new amongst the human race. Especially in the political stratosphere. The advent of the internet has bought us countless fake articles, viral videos and blog posts that vary from malicious to clever inserts from marketing companies. Fake news however is a whole new dimension simply as it has yet to be clearly defined and as such is being used in a plethora of ways which allow the user of the term to hold no responsibility of repercussions for its use.
If we are to truly kill fake news then we must discover how it has become such an easily manipulated and almost meaningless term. It’s gone from the ridiculous such as ” Trump offering free plane tickets back to Africa and Mexico” to Trump himself using fake news as a term in his verbal defence arsenal and becoming almost obsessed by the notion of fake news during his election campaign , inauguration and early presidency . The fake news wave has highlighted how quickly the tides of opinion can be shifted in this new social media age. This alone should set alarm bells ringing amongst us as rational thinking humans. Should we be afraid that algorithms will replace our thinking and fact checking time? Maybe the time we take to fact check will be populated by the rapid spreading of a fake news article. As fake news and Facebook algorithms evolve we will be trapped in a spiral of forever chasing facts about facts. Watching our grip on facts fade away will become the new nostalgia.
The war against fake news is being fought using A.I. With the sheer amount of news sites popping up daily it is near on impossible to utilise humans to defeat fake news. This will be achieved by using natural language processors which will take a posts title and body of content and analyse if for inconsistencies, its geo location as well as cross reference from “trusted news outlets”. Once all these factors are taken into account it will then determine if the published article is in fact true or false. AI has the advantage over humans as they can check billions of websites almost instantly. A task that would take a mere human months if not years at a time. An AI could use keyword analytics in discovering and flagging sensational words often used in fake news headlines.
As snazzy and helpful as it seems there can be serious pitfalls to using AI in this way. Perhaps it can be manipulated to return results that favour one world view, does an AI bot recognise context? As after all the end user is still human. We believe what we like based upon emotion and welcome anything that backs up our own bias’.
Whatever the results it is welcomed that there is a tool that is being used for good. For now…..