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Lie detector for social media being built to curb rumors

lie detector


by Joseph Earnest  February 20, 2014


Newscast Media LONDON—An international group of researchers, led by the University of Sheffield, is aiming to build a system that will automatically verify online rumors as they spread around the globe, since rumors often have far-reaching consequences.


The lie detector will be the first of its kind to automatically analyze, in real time, whether a piece of information is true or false. This will allow journalists, governments, emergency services, health agencies and the private sector to respond more effectively to claims on social media.


The EU-funded project aims to classify online rumors into four types:

speculation – such as whether interest rates might rise; controversy – as over the MMR vaccine; misinformation, where something untrue is spread unwittingly; and disinformation, where it’s done with malicious intent.

The system will also automatically categorize sources to assess their authority, such as news outlets, individual journalists, experts, potential eye witnesses, members of the public or automated 'bots'. It will also look for a history and background, to help spot where Twitter accounts have been created purely to spread false information.

It will search for sources that corroborate or deny the information, and plot how the conversations on social networks evolve, using all of this information to assess whether it is true or false. The results will be displayed to the user in a visual dashboard, to enable them to easily see whether a rumour is taking hold.

Dr Bontcheva adds: "We can already handle many of the challenges involved, such as the sheer volume of information in social networks, the speed at which it appears and the variety of forms, from tweets, to videos, pictures and blog posts. But it’s currently not possible to automatically analyze, in real time, whether a piece of information is true or false and this is what we've now set out to achieve."

Throughout the project, the system will be evaluated in two real-world domains. For digital journalism, it will be tested by the online arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo.ch. For healthcare, it will be tested by the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, where they aim to look at new recreational drugs trending in online discussions and then find out how quickly these feature in patients' medical records and discussions with doctors.

The three-year project, called Pheme, is a collaboration between five universities – Sheffield, Warwick, King's College London, Saarland in Germany and MODUL University Vienna in Austria – and four companies – ATOS in Spain, iHub in Kenya, Ontotext in Bulgaria and swissinfo.ch.       Add Comments>>


Source: University of Sheffield











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