“In highly emotional, partisan political contests, such as the 2020 US Presidential election, voters may ‘remember’ entirely fabricated news stories.”
This quote from Gillian Murphy of University College Cork summarises well the risk that fake news poses to democracy. Numerous research studies indicate that fake news often spreads through social media quicker than real news.
Facebook and Twitter actively use AI techniques to identify fake accounts, bots and other data patterns indicative of fraudulent activity or the spread of fake news. However, as the use of fake news spreads from the political landscape into business and puts global high value brands at risk, more effort will be needed. This may include using machine learning to look for contextual anomalies and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to identify the linguistic fingerprint of articles and assess whether they are authored from a known source.
Despite these efforts, it is likely that fake news will continue to proliferate.
Trends in human behaviour make us all more vulnerable to the malevolent actors. Attention spans are reducing; soundbites grab our attention and it is easy to fall for the click-bait and follow the link. Society is becoming increasingly fractured with greater polarization towards extremes. Consequently, we seek information that reinforces our beliefs rather than alternative positions that we can consider and challenge. This trend fuels a lack of trust and aversion to “the establishment.” Major organisations and brands are likely to become the subject of fake news more frequently in addition to public sector bodies and politicians.
Therefore, we should all try to educate ourselves, so we don’t fall into the trap of believing fake news and fake marketing activity. Some useful pointers are:
- Consider the general appearance of the article. Is it from a known source in the usual format for that site? Is it well written with good grammar and punctuation?
- Read the article beyond the headline. Is the key message clear, is it written in an extreme or balanced style?
- Search for other articles on the same topic. If there aren’t any the chances are the article is fake
- Check out the author by Google search.
- Consider your biases. Do your own beliefs affect your judgement?
- Check the fact checker sites such as Snopes.com, Factcheck.org.
For practical advice on protecting you brand from Fake News using AI please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org