Concern has grown in recent years over how ‘fake news’ is affecting our democratic processes, social cohesion and economic stability. A pioneering EU-funded project has shown how artificial intelligence can help media professionals identify such misinformation.
EU-funded FANDANGO project experienced first-hand the proliferation and evolution of media disinformation. The recent American election, the aftermath of the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum and of course the COVID pandemic, have all underlined the challenge that ‘fake news’ presents to our understanding of complex events. “Defining media disinformation is in itself incredibly complex,” explains FANDANGO project coordinator Francesco Saverio Nucci, application research director at Engineering R&D Labs, Italy. “Even the meaning of the term ‘fake news’ has changed, as it has been adopted for more political ends.” Another challenge is that one person’s interpretation of what constitutes media disinformation is not necessarily the same as someone else’s. And if it is difficult for humans to even agree on a baseline for identifying media disinformation, then applying artificial intelligence algorithms to identify ‘fake news’ is clearly not a straightforward exercise.
Tackling media disinformation Nonetheless, this was the key aim of the FANDANGO project. “Our goal was to try to test and validate various AI tools that could be used to identify disinformation,” adds Nucci. Some of the issues examined included climate change, European policies and immigration.