Twitter buys tech start-up that claims to quickly spot fake news

The company tracks how fast news spreads to determine its authenticity

Lily Puckett
New York
Monday 03 June 2019 17:05 BST

Twitter has acquired a start-up that claims to identify “fake news” quickly.

The company announced on Monday that it was acquiring Fabula AI, a London-based company that uses algorithms and machine learning to identify so-called fake news, the popular term for information that isn’t real or verified. The term typically envelops misleading or complete made-up news that is both deliberately and accidentally circulated.

Fabula AI appears to base its product off studies that show that fake news spreads faster than real news online. According to VentureBeat, they use this pattern to their advantage, tracking how content spreads online. From there, they allocate an authenticity score.

“As this technology detects the spread pattern, it is language and locale independent; in fact, it can be used even when the content is encrypted,” the company says on its homepage. “We also believe that such an approach, given it is based on the propagation pattern through huge social networks, is far more resilient to adversarial attacks.”

The Fabula team will be join Twitter’s Cortex unit, a group of researchers and engineers that work on machine learning technology for Twitter.

Michael Bronstein, Fabula’s co-founder and chief scientist, will lead graph deep learning at Twitter. He’ll also keep a separate at Imperial College in London.

Last week, Twitter announced that it would be conducting in-house research on the ways how white nationalists and supremacists use the website, partially to determine whether or not these groups should be allowed to remain on the platform.

In an interview with Vice’s Motherboard, Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's head of trust and safety, Gadde said Twitter believes "counter-speech and conversation are a force for good, and they can act as a basis for de-radicalisation, and we've seen that happen on other platforms, anecdotally.”

They are hoping the results of the study confirm this belief.

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