How to Expose Disinformation?

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07The U.S. military wants to improve its capabilities in countering disinformation. A new software tool will help analysts better — and much more quickly — survey the information landscape and hopefully detect false narratives that show up in the public space.

The technology will be developed for the U.S. Air Force and Special Operations Command, or SOCOM by Primer, within the framework of a Small Business Innovation Research contract. 

The neural network technology can scan large amounts of text and extract themes and other information based on the frequency and prominence of words and phrases. It’s the sort of thing that can be very useful if you have a lot of text you want to very quickly summarize in an accurate headline. To train their headline-writing neural net, they used a corpus of millions of publicly available document-title pairs: news articles and headlines. 

The platform will “automatically identify and assess suspected disinformation,” according to the company. “Primer will also enhance its natural language processing platform to automatically analyze tactical events to provide commanders with unprecedented insight as events unfold in near real-time.” 

The software will be taught to recognize sources of credible information versus less credible information. That process will take time and a fair amount of important data input from users and operators. 

The hope over the next 12 months is to add data that comes from operators responding and interacting with the product and the information it presents. Those users in SOCOM and the Air Force will be able to determine — and provide information on — which of the sources is the most credible, based on what they’ve seen. Their input will allow the network over time to develop a sense of which claims are more likely to be factual based on the source and what other sources are saying that’s different. 

Eventually, the platform will be able to award a particular claim or news item a sort of accuracy score based on those factors, whether the source is credible, what other perhaps more credible sources are saying, etc. But if you’re not sure of how the network reached its conclusion, you can see the process — and the news sources —it used to make that determination, according to