Over half the world’s population is now online (Internet World Stats 2019). More than 1.6 billion people use Facebook each day (Facebook 2019), while Twitter has another 145 million daily users (Twitter 2019). But our ability to connect online has far outpaced our capacity to distinguish between reliable and unreliable information. Intelligence agencies, political parties, and rogue actors are all taking advantage of this complex and exploitable web of interconnections and using social media to disseminate altered content, fake news, and propaganda to interfere in elections and even to incite direct violence.
As digital forensics researchers, we have been developing artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities that validate the integrity of media such as photos or videos for government, commercial, and humanitarian purposes. We believe one important use for this technology is to preserve peace and security by helping guarantee the integrity of democratic elections. Another use is to help provide real time forecasts of mass violence in volatile contexts. With these ends in mind, we are building an early warning system that will employ AI to observe social media for the coordinated dissemination of manipulated disinformation and other emerging malicious trends. This system will be able to warn human observers such as journalists or election monitors about potential threats in real time.
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