We live in an era where violence is real and the news is fake. In what can be termed as a grotesque violation of human rights, fake news circulated on WhatsApp has claimed the lives of twenty-four individuals in India since May 2018. This, however, is just a glimpse of wide-scale violence that has become commonplace in our country, courtesy fake news. In today’s digitally connected world where everything from food delivery to hotel booking, news consumption to election campaigns are controlled via handheld devices, the spread of fake news is more apparent, considering the lack of resources to verify information. As a result, there has been a constant surge in social unrest and violence. In order to counter this, the tech behemoths have implemented many solutions. In fact, WhatsApp published a full-page advertisement on newspapers in multiple languages, describing methods to demarcate fake news from the genuine lot. However, a tangible solution to this epidemic still awaits.
As fake news is a nasty byproduct of digitization, efforts to contain it via technology is viewed as a probable solution. To that end, many organizations have concerted their endeavors towards creating AI-powered algorithms that pinpoint fake news. There are many pros- and anti-theories that validate and reject this proposal, however the ingenuity of such a tool is already making headlines.
To understand how AI can demolish fake news, let’s look at it at a granular level:
1. The Google-powered website scores can be leveraged to determine the source of the news. And hence can be taught to the AI-powered tool.
2. Through an AI-powered tool, the information can be weighed on the websites of various authentic sources.
3. The AI-powered algorithm can determine the reputation of a particular website churning out information and flag it as fake if it doesn’t keep up with the guidelines fed into it.
4. Lastly, such a tool can be utilized to demarcate sensational words that usually are a part of a fake news headline.
This, however, is just a ballpark of what artificial intelligence can deliver. Many firms had risen but the majority has failed to contain the proliferation of fake news. There are millions of websites, which are still active, spreading misinformation to a large section of people.
Metafact: The Tech-driven Fake News Finders of India
The New Delhi-based Metafact is one among the many organizations that have taken the fake news issues seriously. Countering it head-on, the firm’s NLP algorithm seamlessly demarcates misleading information from others. The firm came into being after the US Presidential election when fake news had gained traction. The real challenge to Metafact is that their platform operates only in English whereas most fake news is spread in regional languages. Founder of the firm Sagar Kaul has assured that Metafact is in the process of training its tool how to operate in regional languages and very soon it will be used to counter the fake news deluge that has gripped Indian social media. Metafact’s team is a unique combination of tech junkies and journalists invested in thwarting the challenges posed by misinformation and fake news.
Whether or not artificial intelligence can contain the fake news epidemic is still debatable, however, it appears to be the step in the right direction, at least for now. Until and unless we employ technology, a viable solution to all such problems is impossible.