ABU DHABI—Monther Aldwairi sees the pervasive and much-discussed issue of fake news with the kind of problem-solving simplicity that only a computer engineer could.
“Our computers already filter for dangerous viruses,” he says. “Why don’t they do that for fake news too?” It was this question that launched a collaboration between himself and like-minded researchers in Jordan.
Aldwairi, an associate professor in the College of Technological Innovation at Zayed University, in Abu Dhabi, isn’t trying to solve the fake news problem by eradicating it; instead, he wants to help readers to be more discerning about what they read.
His aim is to ensure that the Internet users of tomorrow are alerted if they’re reading a webpage that’s likely to contain falsified information. Crucially, he and his collaborators want to do this in both English and Arabic.
To do this, the researchers are using their field’s trendiest tool—artificial intelligence. (See a related article, “Artificial Intelligence Helps Computers Leap Forward in Reading Arabic.”)
A Problem on Social Media
Fake news—broadly defined by academics as low quality news with deliberately false information usually designed with the intent to encourage social division—is nothing new; it’s been around for centuries. But most observers say it’s exploded in recent years, thanks largely to social media.