Coming soon: Online lie detector to test social media rumours

From the royal wedding announcement on Twitter, to the rumour of Rwandan President, Paul Kagame’s death, these days lots of news stories break and rumours originate from Social Media.  So, is it any wonder that a lie detector is currently being developed to help organisations including emergency services effectively respond to Social Media by verifying online rumours.

The project, called Pheme after the Pheme of Greek mythology,  is being funded by the EU and worked on by five Universities and four businesses including  Sheffield, Warwick and King’s College London.

They claim that the system could have helped verify online rumours during the London riots

Dr Kalina Bontcheva, Lead researcher from the Department of Computer Science at Sheffield University says:

“There was a suggestion after the 2011 riots that social networks should have been shut down, to prevent the rioters using them to organise. But social networks also provide useful information – the problem is that it all happens so fast and we can’t quickly sort truth from lies. This makes it difficult to respond to rumours, for example, for the emergency services to quash a lie in order to keep a situation calm. Our system aims to help with that, by tracking and verifying information in real time.”

The system is set to analyse the text of posts on Twitter and Facebook to get to the truth and route out accounts set up to share false commentary.

The project is set to last for three years and the hope is that from it a specialist tool will be produced for journalists.

It will be very interesting to see what comes of it – watch this space..

 

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