Have you heard the news about Fake News?… Of course you have. And despite all the fervor around it not only continues to exists but thrive. Because of one simple fact, it quite literally pays.
You see those news items that get clicked on the most end up getting revenue. And the more attention the more it drives those clicks. Fake news is simply created to capture those clicks. Different stories crafted with words, memes, images and people that cry out to click me!!
Though it seems like an art form there is also a lot of science behind it. For example marketing research companies study subject lines that will cause email to more likely be read. Studying the click behavior of many different populations. All aimed at finding the most effective communication to reach your audience. Unfortunately Fake News uses this science making falsehoods payoff but not caring about truth. Can data science make truth more valuable?
I’m not sure we can get there today but it is conceivable, and here’s how.
- Build a “Truth Grader” that reads ahead “news articles” that appear in your browser
- Then the grader breaks the article into opinion vs fact, capturing the fact / opinion ratio
- Next the grader tests the facts against trusted sources and determines an overall fact score
- Finally the Truth Grader puts a code based on the strength of facts with rill over details for the reader
Technically we’re actually not as far off as it may sound. Step 1 and 4 are relatively straight forward, Step 3 maybe possible with a Watson like interface. Though determining “trusted sources” would likely be an area of much “discussion”. It’s step 2 that would currently be the only real blocker. And of course this gets harder with video and pictures
Of course the real question is would knowing that some juicy sounding story was probably fake stop us from clicking on it… I am hopeful we’d teach the web we do value truth. But at least we’d have the data to know.