A few months ago, a friend of mine shared an article on Facebook about a man that accidentally married his own granddaughter. The two discovered their genetic relationship afterward but decided to stay together. This was a very bizarre story. It was also completely fake.
This isn’t the only fake news story that was published. Over the past year, loads of similarly bizarre stories were published, such as the PizzaGate conspiracy surrounding presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. The fake news epidemic has been around for quite some time. Technology has made spreading fake news easier than ever, but big data may be the solution.
How Big Data Will Fight Fake News
Google, Facebook, and other technology firms have pledged to do their part to eradicate fake news from the Internet. They are using big data to identify websites that publish bogus information, identify signs that an article from a new site is fake and solicit feedback from their users.
Rohit Akiwatkar, a big data and marketing expert at Simform Solutions, reports that big data and artificial intelligence can combat fake news by:
- Scoring web pages for accuracy and context
- Weighing facts against more reputable news sources
- Checking website domain names, Alexa rankings, sources, and SERP rankings to gauge their reputation
- Flagging sensationalistic words that are frequently used in fake news content
A number of tools and fact-checking sites are already available to identify fake news content, such as Snopes and Politifact. Google Trends, Hoaxy, and a few other sources can also be used.
Experts are brainstorming even more creative ways to leverage big data to solve the fake news problem. TasosMartidis, a back end programmer, and big data blogger state that one of the solutions they are pondering is blockchain, the authentication system behind Bitcoin, to authenticate news sources.
“That sets the requirement of knowing the source of a story and from whom that story was disseminated. It turns out that there is a technology already that can do a pretty good job with that: Blockchain… Applying such technology in the context of the fake news, allows us to know who created and disseminated the stories. At any given point, if a news article has been fact-checked and was found to be false, we are able to know its origin and distributors.”
At least one startup is already developing a blockchain solution to take on fake news publishers. User feeds has announced that it is using blockchain technology to identify fake news and work with Facebook and other publishers to combat it. Their platform rewards users that research content and takes action to combat news. They believe that social media networks can’t fight fake news on their own, so they are relying on users to help with content scoring.
Plenty of user generated content systems rely on user voting. Digg was one of the first and Reddit continues to follow the same model. Facebook has since started ranking trending content according to social shares. However, their approach did little to slow the spreading of fake news, because users rarely authenticated content before sharing it. User feeds system is unique in that it incentivizes users to do their due diligence before voting. Their system will probably be used to get content shared through Rantic and other tools that influence the ranking algorithm. Rantic is a new tool that helps brands boost their exposure on social media. They have a number of reputable clients and are concerned about the integrity of the content they promote.
Big Data is the Best Weapon Against Fake News
The fake news will remain a problem for the foreseeable future, but at least a number of companies are implementing solutions. Big data and blockchain will help them boost the quality of online content in the years to come.