February 27, 2018
The “post truth” era in politics and in public opinion shaping is so broadly accepted that there is a lemma in the Oxford Dictionary, that it also includes the following quota: ‘In this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry- pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire’. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre towards the end of last year found that 64% of social networks users said made-up news stories were causing confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events. Fake News are now a hot issue in Europe as well as worldwide, particularly referred to political and social challenges that reflect in business as well as in industry.
Working out who to trust and who not to believe has been a facet of human history since our ancestors began living in complex societies. The main difference in today’s societies is that technology and the Internet give us access to a vast amounts of information. Most of the times even more information than we can ingest. Although, the internet enabled many voices to be heard, which otherwise would not, our concern now is how to control and filter-out the dissemination of things that seem to be untrue.
Europe is lacking of a systematic knowledge and data transfer across organizations to address the aggressive emergence of the well-known problem of fake news and post-truth effect. The possibility to use cross sector Big Data management and analytics, along with an effective interoperability scheme for all our data sources, will generate new business and societal impacts involving several stakeholders and targets such as:
- Media Companies (Press agencies, news, TV Broadcaster etc)
- Governmental institutions and organisations
- The overall Industrial ecosystem
- The entire society
The aim of FANDANGO is to aggregate and verify different typologies of news data, media sources, social media, open data, so as to detect fake news and provide a more efficient and verified communication for all European citizens.
It is evident that news agencies and the other media companies are the first target and operator that use and disseminate news. In the past, news and media companies accessed data as separate “silos” without a strong interoperability between different media. This practice enforced the possibilities for malicious media sources to disseminate fake news. FANDANGO vision is to make all available communication channels work together with smart correlation techniques, in order to identify and verify fakeness in news. To do so, integration of all data communication sources will be one of the major goals of the project.
Since truth is no longer dictated by authorities, but is networked by peers, for every fact there is one or more counterfacts. All those counterfacts as well as facts may look identical online, leading in confusing most of the people. It is a bewildering maze of claims and counterclaims, where hoaxes spread in great speed, in particular on social media, and spark angry backlashes from people who take what they read at face value. All the above, shows that a new way to decide what is trustworthy is needed, FANDANGO will seek to answer through the use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques in order to define our eras new shape of truth.
Having a large number of people in a society who are misinformed is absolutely devastating and extremely difficult to cope with. Some warn that “fake news” threatens the democratic process itself. On page one of any political science textbook it will argue that democracy relies on people being informed about the issues so they can have a debate and make a decision. The possibility to increase access to data for journalists and citizens can give an efficient support in tackling this problem and in helping a better usage of new digital information channels.
European tradition in democracy, journalism and transparency should play a wordwide example in fast changing society, where all citizens appears completely overwhelmed by the new technologies and by the new social challenges.