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  • Bad information impacts all of us.

  • Scams threaten all of our finances.

  • Political misinformation undermines our democracy.

  • When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic,

  • health misinformation threatens all of our lives.

  • In human history, it has never been so easy to spread misinformation

  • to millions of people so rapidly.

  • My name is Laura Walters, I'm a journalist,

  • and I have been a victim of misinformation.

  • I got a cold call from a new website looking to publish news content.

  • Everything seemed very normal, like any other freelance commission.

  • I wrote the story on Chinese influence in New Zealand,

  • and then I literally thought nothing more of it.

  • And about three or four months later, I got a call.

  • Turns out that the FBI had actually tipped off Facebook.

  • This news organisation wasn't a news organisation at all.

  • It was the same troll farm

  • that meddled in the 2016 US presidential elections.

  • From there it's been a deep dive into learning about

  • how our networks are infiltrated to try and spread misinformation.

  • I could have completely avoided this situation

  • if I had applied the scrutiny in the same way that I do

  • when I'm investigating a story myself.

  • If I can show how it happened to me,

  • maybe I can help other people avoid it.

  • It's been a real wild experience for me.

  • It's important to remind people

  • of the dangers of information

  • and the new ways

  • that people can share information

  • that present risks to all of us,

  • but also the internet as a means of sharing good information.

  • Yes, we're all confronted with more information than ever

  • which makes it hard to tell fact from fiction,

  • but at the same time, fact-checkers like us

  • can use the internet and the reach that we have to correct the record

  • quicker than we ever could, and directly to people.

  • You can verify a story in many cases

  • by simply typing in

  • the claim that you're not very sure of

  • and putting "fact check" next to it, for example,

  • on your preferred search engine.

  • There's a very good chance that the top result

  • will actually take you to one of the fact checking organisations' website

  • that has already looked into that claim.

  • Fact checking organisations have looked into well over 100,000 claims

  • just when the pandemic started.

  • Within one year, they have looked at over 10,000 claims

  • only related to the pandemic.

  • There were quite a few stories circulating

  • that were false, that were offering very simple cures to the disease,

  • such as if you inhale steam.

  • -And that it would cure coronavirus just seemed completely illogical.

  • But when people are just overwhelmed by the amount of information

  • and they're scared and they're anxious,

  • it shows that they can believe things.

  • It's interesting, when we're sort of anxious

  • we have, on the one hand, a need to actively go out and find information

  • as a way of explaining what's going on, or even to help keep us safe.

  • But at the same time, the research shows

  • we also experience paradoxical inability to process complexity,

  • which, all together, means that when we are anxious

  • we are even more susceptible to bad information.

  • There are tools online to verify, for example, fake images.

  • One of them is Google reverse image search

  • where you put in an image and search for that image.

  • It is a really useful way

  • of seeing where that image originally came from.

  • Something like this would be a huge news story

  • so if it's not being reported by trusted news sources

  • that might be a clue that it's not actually true.

  • Deepfakes is a big concern,

  • and it's a growing concern, because it's completely new technology.

  • The wonderful world of deepfakes.

  • AI and VFX.

  • In the future that technology's going to be perfected

  • and then we would really struggle

  • to tell whether that video is not what it's meant to be.

  • And so more technology is coming out

  • that would help curb the spread of misinformation

  • in the form of plug-ins or that you could download

  • and attach to your browser.

  • They could tell you what's less credible and what's more credible.

  • Algorithms that could help the social media platforms

  • to detect automatically and very rapidly

  • which stories being circulated that are not true.

  • I'm quite hopeful on our ability

  • to tackle the spread of misinformation in the future

  • because more people are aware of the issue

  • because AI technology is becoming far more effective and powerful

  • in determining what is credible and what isn't

  • and then reducing, if not stopping the spread, of that misinformation.

Bad information impacts all of us.

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B1 misinformation information credible spread image deepfakes

Is everything you share online 100% accurate? | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/13
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