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'hackathon' Attempts to STEM Proliferation of Fake News


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Concern over the impact on voters of fake news during the U.S. presidential election has sparked a hackathon in which the technology industry and the medias top thinkers are seeking ways to prioritize the truth.

Credit: Financial Times

A hackathon inspired by worries about the influence of fake news over the U.S. presidential election seeks to bring the technology industry and leading media thinkers together to incentivize the prioritization of truth.

Dartmouth College professor Hany Farid sees one solution in adapting algorithms designed to recognize and flag inappropriate content, such as extremist propaganda and child pornography, on social networks. "It is disingenuous to say this is too hard a problem because as soon as there is a financial incentive, they get a lot smart," Farid says. "Social media and the Internet reach millions and millions of people, do incredible harm, propagate hatred and influence elections, they have to take that responsibility seriously."

Others contend fact-checking requires greater human participation, and Wikimedia Foundation executive director Katherine Maher cites the community-vetting Wikipedia model, with its emphasis on transparency, as a template for the proliferation of reliable information. She says this is in marked contrast to Facebook, whose algorithm supplies content that is often devoid of context.

Betaworks executive director John Borthwick and City University of New York professor Jeff Jarvis are urging collaborative efforts against fake news, suggesting the development of technologies that trace back to the root source of news items and memes.

From Financial Times
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