A new EU project called “PROVENANCE”, has been proposed to track down and mark fake news online. The aim is to create a verification system for actual original news, to help the less informed to see the difference between a fake or misleading news article, and an original, factual one. It is a three-year project and is set to be headed by the Dublin City University (DCU) Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo).
The demand for a means to verify news has been a part of all media in the last number of years. The term “fake news” became popularised with Donald Trump’s election campaign in America in 2015 and 2016. He used it as a means of dismissing some of the negative reports about himself and his practices. Since then, it has become even more of a plague in social media. It is used to manipulate people’s opinion via unfactual or misleading journalism, as well as for attention by lesser known sites to generate advertisement revenue.
The DCU Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo) has taken the reigns of this project. In December 2018, PROVENANCE, led by the Associate Professor of Dublin City University Institute for Future Media and Journalism Dr Jane Suiter, will start it’s journey of changing how news is reported, hopefully decredifying “fake news” to the general public.
The team operating the project consists of experts from four countries. The SFI ADAPT Research Centre for Digital Content Technology in Trinity College Dublin, NewsWhip, everis Global, the Institute of Information Theory and Automation at Czech Academy of Sciences, the Cibervoluntarios Foundation, and the Cognitive Science Section of Graz University of Technology are among the many organisations to be involved with PROVENANCE. The project team will also work closely with citizens and content creators to include their thoughts, and to improve the digital environment for sharing content and information as a whole.
The Director of the FuJo and Project Co-ordinator, Dr Jane Suiter said the following.
The speed and volume of disinformation on social media has the potential to undermine democracy, business, and social reputations. This project will enable the tracking of online content and enable the level of its manipulation through web and social media platforms to help consumers and business not only track their own material but to have confidence in the content that they see online.
The project is intended to be aimed around social media in particular but also incorporating news sites and other media platforms. The method used by the project will involve using a “Verification Layer”, consisting of analysing media at a basic content level. Image forensics, plagiarism and fact verification will all be used to create a “Verification Indicator”, which shows whether or not a piece of news is legitimate or not. The Verification Indicator will check who originally created the content (or if it’s organic), how old the news actually is, and to see if there are similar pieces of content floating around the web. It will also detect any modifications to it, and when they occur.
President Brian MacCraith of DCU expressed how proud he is of the Institute’s work.
Ensuring the integrity and reliability of news from various sources is a critical issue for citizens across the globe at this time and is one that gets to the very heart of democracy. Building on DCU’s expertise and our commitment to excellence and innovation in Journalism Education over many decades, I am delighted that our FuJo Institute is focusing its research and leading a team of international experts to address this key issue.