Fake News Technology

Google awards $50k seed money to British firms looking to fight fake news


By Gillian West, Social media manager

January 21, 2017 | 2 min read

Google has awarded £50,000 (£41,000) of seed capital each to three British groups in a bid to rid the internet of fake news.

The groups - Factmata, The Ferret and Full Fact - are currently looking to design widgets that will find claims online and determine whether or not they are true.

Factmata founder, Dhruv Ghulati, who studied machine learning at University College London, told the press he was looking to find a way to provide the services of a human fact-checker, but at the speed of the internet, however, even spotting a fact to be checked is a challenge for a computer so Factmata is concentrating on statistics at present.

“Full fact-checking is far away, I’d say, but we are getting to a place where we can start to try and resolve certain facts. Statistical facts - unemployment rate, murder rate, government expenditure. If you look at what politicians talk about, probably 70% of claims are to do with statistics and those are also easiest to computationally fact-check,” said Ghulati.

Full Fact’s digital products manager, Mevan Babakar, said it didn’t want to create an “all-knowing, all-seeing artificial intelligence” but instead wanted to free up fact checkers to work on “more nuanced claims”.

Her plan is to create a database of previously checked claims that can be used to spot repetition. Additionally, Full Fact wants to provide a tool for journalists to check data in real-time in order to challenge claims that don’t measure up.

Earlier this week Forbes weighed in on the fake news dilemma claiming it could be “just what brands needed in this distributed content world to rise to the top again” and a study from Reuters showed two-thirds of global media chiefs believed fake news would help ‘strengthen’ the position of quality publishers.

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