In a world united by technology, where 63% of the world’s population has internet access, digital content is everywhere. From viral cat videos to educational resources and online news articles, the world is flooded by content.
But how do we know that the content we’re consuming is genuine and reliable? When it comes to cute pet videos, reliability isn’t really a concern, but what about news articles? Unarguably, the misinformation spread in news media can have far-reaching negative political and societal implications.
The problem is bigger than you might think. According to a Journolink survey, fake news stories received more Facebook engagement than mainstream media stories, in the final 3 months of the 2016 US presidential campaign. We can only imagine the consequences.
Can technology prevail where human oversight has failed us? Experts are hoping that artificial intelligence and blockchain may be the answer.
Can AI and Blockchain End Fake News and Online Disinformation?
Did you know that the Washington Post averages around 1,200 stories, videos, and graphics every day? This seems to be a huge number, but it’s nothing compared to the estimated 4.4 million blog posts that are published online daily.
Needless to say, this amount of content is becoming impossible to verify by humans, allowing the free flow of fake news and online disinformation. Not to mention the content safety issues it raises. Yet, where human cognition is not enough, technology can find a way, namely artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. Starting with artificial intelligence, AI algorithms introduce revolutionary new ways to spot fake news, using different methods to detect misinformation.
For instance, GoodNews employs geometric deep learning to detect fake news. What’s interesting about this initiative is that it doesn’t actually look at the content, but the social networks and sharing patterns that fake news goes through. According to project leader Prof. Michael Bronstein, fake news is shared in different ways and receives a higher volume of engagement compared to real news. GoodNews’ graph-based machine learning algorithms analyze these patterns and create a credibility score for each news article.
Another AI project combating online misinformation is Fandango, an AI-powered software tool to help fact-checkers detect fake news. Fandango uses content-independent detection, meaning that the AI algorithms reverse-engineer news stories. Its second layer of fact-checking employs a database of online information proven fake, and natural language processing algorithms that cross-check for similar resources across the web to spot other copies of fake news articles.
Lastly, we can’t talk about disinformation prevention without mentioning Blackbird.ai, an AI-driven disinformation, and narrative intelligence platform — aiming to combat misinformation and malicious brand narratives. Blackbird’s approach is quite unique, as it analyzes “cohorts” of online users who may be manipulating online narrative and spreading disinformation collectively.
Blockchain can be equally efficient at combating misinformation, using different methods. Thanks to the immutability and censorship-resistance of the blockchain ledger, information on these networks are nearly impossible to manipulate. Minting news stories into blocks could make their provenance publicly traceable, with no central party being able to change the original article. The New York Times is already leveraging blockchain technology in its News Provenance Project, tracking the metadata of online sources and news photos, to provide greater context and transparency.
The South China Morning Post’s ARTIFACT initiative uses non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to create immutable records of historical assets and create a metadata standard for the media industry. Minting news articles as NFTs creates an immutable record, which benefits from the inherent transparency of blockchain — encouraging more thorough fact-checking and reliable content from the media industry.
AI on the Blockchain: Ending Online Disinformation
Both AI and blockchain play integral roles in combating online misinformation, but the convergence of these two technological paradigms is necessary to combat the daily volume of misleading content.
AIWORK, a company specialized in generating and enhancing online video metadata, is combining AI algorithms with a decentralized blockchain network to help combat misinformation. ContentGraph, the protocol’s trademark content safety index, is using AI to categorize content safety attributes in online video content and create a new metadata standard. Combining AI and blockchain in a similar fashion could also help combat online video misinformation, using AIWORK’s enhanced metadata model.
Regardless of our technological innovations, the war against fake news can’t be won, but rather kept at bay. The convergence of blockchain and AI will be necessary to stand a chance against the flood of online misinformation internet users are facing.