If social networks are seen as a gold mine in terms of information and citizens’ expressions, they can also be used to spread rumors. To solve this, some researchers are working on a type of “lie detector” on Twitter and Facebook.
The objective is to verify in real time the information for governments, emergency services, media and businesses for them to be able to respond to rumors more effectively. Indeed, for a brand, the slightest negative rumor vis- à-vis its image may have a terrible impact only in a few hours.
This led the European Union to fund this project called PHEME (a name taken from a Roman goddess who has a habit of spreading rumors).
The project is launched for a three years period and will identify false rumors so that they do not take too much size and allow people to react more quickly. It was developed in partnership with five European universities, including three English universities, one in Germany and one in Austria.
Academics explain that “social networks swarm of lies” with an “immediate and significant” impact and it is often “difficult (…) to stifle a lie to ease out a situation.”
Each word is analyzed from its source to its distribution. It is then classified into one of four categories: controversy, disinformation, misinformation or speculation. At this point, the system is already able to focus manually on several types of data: a message on a social network, a photo or video. The goal is to have this checking process be automatic.
A first version of the program is expected in 18 months, a project to monitor closely, as sources as well as classification categories are very subjective … and this can lead to all kinds of manipulation.
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