Americans rate fake news as a bigger problem than terrorism. Can Twitter solve the problem?

Twitter is investing in artificial intelligence to solve its fake news problem. The social media company bought London-based startup Fabula AI, Twitter's chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal, announced in a June 3 blog post.

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  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    June 14, 2019 10:23 a.m.

    Two rules I use.

    There need to be details. If someone said, "This is hate." I want to see the evidence. What did the person say? Give some examples. Don't expect me to blindly believe that.

    News sources which have hyperlinks that I can click on are credible. I read something from a conservative news site and they had a hyperlink referring to a NY times article so I could confirm that this was evidence that what they were saying was true.

    If some news or opinion piece alludes to something like "So and so is a known LGBT bigot." without showing the evidence, it is not credible and is even a little frustrating. The truth is out there, but they can't ever get around to provide the evidence.

  • Bob Tanner Price, UT
    June 13, 2019 1:29 p.m.

    Fake news is what the Nazi's used to begin their revolution in Germany. It is dangerous . Once the populace is confused s to what is really going on the time is ripe for revolution. Twitter and Facebook are only amplifying fake news because it is instant and many times it is just one person's opinion. The entire news media puts opinion over fact in everyday articles. I teach U.S. History and these past two years I have stopped using printed and televised news until I can verify the authenticity of each article. During the Walter Conkrite era new broadcasters reported only the facts and the interpretation was left for the reader to decide. What has happened to the American media in today's world is very sad indeed.

  • puhiava American Fork, UT
    June 13, 2019 9:34 a.m.

    This article and twitter is heading in the wrong direction. The problem belongs with main stream media and not these “bots” that spread fake news. The enquirer and the daily mirror have been around for a long time and if people are reading news from these fake news bots they are probably likely to read more gossip and less substance.

    The real problem which twitter, Facebook and others are in denial about are the news reporters reporting in their biased silos whether it is liberal or conservative. We are no longer receiving objective news. In fact, the far left is veering completely away from objective news and becoming openly partisan spreading their disinformation and propaganda.

  • creative , NY
    June 13, 2019 6:36 a.m.

    It is not about Rep/Dems, is about being honest, blaming the media for the disgraceful way the POTUS is placing people against each other, families, friends even church leaders, PLEASE, STOP IT. you know what is right against wrong, as a native American it is disgusting to see this country being divided once again because people are on denial, STOP blaming news, Dems. Libs. and anyone else that do not see things from your own lens. We have FREEDOM of speech and conscience, let those two places the blame where it belongs.

  • Herbert Gravy Salinas, CA
    June 13, 2019 12:28 a.m.

    @happy valley Heretic

    Any "fakeness" in refusing to capitalize "donald" or "trump"?

  • Herbert Gravy Salinas, CA
    June 13, 2019 12:20 a.m.

    Looks like President Trump has been right all along!

  • From Ted's Head Orem, UT
    June 12, 2019 5:33 p.m.

    Follow the dollars. Click bait headlines and singing to the choir viewpoints reflect the economic realities faced by today's media companies. They have a market segment that they must supply with new content on a daily basis, content that is what their customers want to consume. Middle of the road reporting doesn't move the needle and "journalists" have morphed into entertainers who play to a specific audience. Objectivity is no longer (if it ever really was) a trademark of successful media outlets. I find myself checking news sites that are primarily right-leaning, mixing in some left-leaning sites for perspective, although I am rarely moved by the left's arguments. It's fairly easy to see the intentional bias from both sides in a "news" story. Personally, my definition of "fake news" includes stories so intentionally biased that an objective reader would be misled as to what occurred.

    I don't use Twitter so their use of AI (which is only as good as the fact-checking process utilized by Snopes and others) to weed out conservative content doesn't really bother me too much. I expect as much.

    Lastly, Trump's style is impact over facts and everyone should know that by now.

  • Born in Bountiful Provo, Utah
    June 12, 2019 4:57 p.m.

    I have an easier test. If it is being tweeted, it is more likely than not fake.

  • jeclar2006 Oceanside, CA
    June 12, 2019 4:43 p.m.

    search diligently - Lehi, UT
    Until our citizens investigate what is being said on all sides, the media will be capable of manipulating people into believing their agendas. And these are not unbiased.

    It is amazing in this era of internet connectivity, that when an article, news story, or opinion is placed on some major news/opinion site's pages, people don't do some rudimentary fact checking.

    There is also the issue, as stated by Pontius Pilot... "What is Truth"...

    A statement can be True or False, usually only in say mathematics, with 100% certainty. For the Real World, there is a Truth value ranging from mostly true, to mostly false. There's also partial Truths, which leave out significant details of a situation.

    Eric Hoffer in his book, "True Believer", depicts a number of elements of Mass Movements and their leaders, rather the process of change of leadership, and the use, or misuse of Truth. It is said that Eisenhower was impressed with the book, as it came out during the rise of McCarthyism in the early 1950s.

    I can't imagine Trump, or or most of the current GOP, reading such a book, or being impressed with it to hand out to friends and associates.

  • Truth-Over-Tolerance Hamilton, NZ, 00
    June 12, 2019 4:33 p.m.

    The problem is that Twitter pushes "trusted" news sources, such as CNN, that have turned out to be pushing fake news.

    Meanwhile, they ban people like Alex Jones who have broke real stories, have reported accurately, and whose predictions have come true.

    Twitter is the problem, and it needs to be split in four to remove it's monopoly.

  • Go Big Blue!!! Bountiful, UT
    June 12, 2019 4:29 p.m.

    It's easy to call something you don't like fake news. The president does it every day. It is true that news reports are biased. Every day I check out Fox News, CNN and ABC News. To me Fox and CNN are both extreme and slanted in opposite directions. We have moved a long way from just reporting facts and letting viewers decide. That said, I am tired of the President continually claiming he is unfairly treated when he constantly tweets horrible things and calls everyone that opposes him names acting like a school yard bully. Sad state of affairs.

  • search diligently Lehi, UT
    June 12, 2019 4:19 p.m.

    Until our citizens investigate what is being said on all sides, the media will be capable of manipulating people into believing their agendas. And these are not unbiased.

    I sincerely suggest every responsible citizen spend equal time listening to liberal and conservative views from various sources. Only then can we feel we are getting to the bottom of the issues. I do this myself and encourage all here to do the same.

  • Candace Owens Rocks Forest Heights, MD
    June 12, 2019 4:17 p.m.

    Care to tell me about censorship?

    Censorship is hate speech, and the social media monopolists are doing it.

  • stand up for truth Lehi, UT
    June 12, 2019 4:11 p.m.

    I couldn't agree more that fake news is very disconcerting and it is being used by liberals as the propaganda arm of the Dems to try and take down a duly elected president. American citizens, in general, are going to get wise to it and it will turn back upon their own heads.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    June 12, 2019 3:44 p.m.

    The problem with the fake news thing is nobody can define what fake news is.

    To liberals, fake news is defined as "news that's not true".
    To conservatives, fake news is defined as "news that's true but doesn't reflect well on conservatives."

    Until we agree on what fake news is, there's no way to even begin solving the problem. (Hint: The true meaning is the former)

  • 🎼TruthIsMarching Boston, MA
    June 12, 2019 3:31 p.m.

    Break up the twitter monopoly. We need skeptics in the media, and with 90% of the media being anti-Trump, there isn't much skepticism. Communists are never willing to question their own beliefs. Break up the monopoly, and allow the truth to come out.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    June 12, 2019 3:23 p.m.

    The CEO of twitter is Parag Agarwal;
    The CEO of google is Sundar Pichai;
    Now twitter is hiring a London-based firm to decide what is to be considered "hate speech".
    Do we think the employees of that company have any commitment to the US's standards of free speech ? Are the employees of that company even British citizens?
    I thought the goal was to eliminate foreign entities who would be influencing our elections on social media ?!?

  • iceskatercjudd Coalville, UT
    June 12, 2019 3:17 p.m.

    We seem to struggle with the difference between "fake news" and bias. Most main stream media outlets exhibit some form of bias (MSNBC has left leaning bias and Fox has right leaning bias). Bias is when we present a story where the base facts are correct, but there may be a spin employed or some information is disregarded to build a narrative. This is not "fake news". "Fake news" is actually putting out intellectually dishonest stories based on no facts.

    Alex Jones saying that Obama set up Sandy Hook to sway support for gun legislation is fake news. NYT spending two years talking about the Hillary political machine and her chance of winning is bias.

    There is no evidence to support the claim by Alex Jones, however there was evidence to build off for NYT to run that narrative (plus predictive scenarios can't be solidly factual anyways).

    Either way, there needs to be a clearer delineation of the two and recognition that the MSM rarely strsys in territory of "fake news". They may utilise bias and create narratives, but always with a factual base.

  • Obama10 SYRACUSE, UT
    June 12, 2019 3:10 p.m.

    Twitter is part of the problem! Why would we think they can "fix the problem"? Honest reporting, including the DesNews, would go a long way in restoring trust, and also profits, do a dishonest profession.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    June 12, 2019 2:39 p.m.

    If Veritas and Alex Jones are your trusted sources, then there is no reasonable way to debate this.

    I remember when Conservatives didn't whine about being victims and picked on all the time, they aren't either but their favorite info providers tell them that all the time, so they believe it.

  • Miguel1 Las Vegas, NV
    June 12, 2019 2:10 p.m.

    If the headline is true, that is sad commentary on those people who watch Fox News. I mean really? We have a man in the White House who lies multiple times daily and wants to decry all negative news as fake, and people actually believe him. I think this country needs lessons on critical thinking.

    June 12, 2019 2:10 p.m.

    The problem with defining "fake news" and "dangerous posts" is that there is a wide gap of opinion when it comes to many commentators, stories, etc..
    When people and machines get involved to censor, the result has almost uniformly been the elimination / reduction of Conservative content with no affect on or greater access to liberal content. This sounds like a liberalization of Twitter project.

  • Utahnareapeculiarpeople Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2019 1:59 p.m.

    “Americans say the spread of made-up news is a bigger problem for the country than terrorism, illegal immigration, racism or sexism, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.”

    “Pew finds that Americans think differently about fake news depending on whether they identify as a Republican or Democrat. Sixty-two percent of Republican-leaning individuals say made-up news is a "very big problem," compared to 40 percent of Democrat-leaning people.”

    The problem, of course, is that for the “president,” “fake news” is news he doesn’t like. And his loyal followers don’t understand or don’t care, or both, about the distinction between that and made-up news (for example, like saying that the inauguration was the YUGEST ever).

  • WeThePeople Sandy, UT
    June 12, 2019 1:56 p.m.

    Twitter and Facebook nakedly and blatantly discriminate against conservative's, while letting democrates and social justice warrior's spread there lie's.

    The real fake news is the liberal propaganda, that passes for truth in our so-called media. Thanks to the brave patriot's who watch the news and set the record straight!

  • Viva la Migra Denver, CO
    June 12, 2019 1:03 p.m.

    One major component to this is everyone's confirmation bias. If a conservative thinks the established press is pushing a liberal agenda and writing false news stories, every time they encounter an example of this, it will strengthen their viewpoint. People who trust the media will believe these stories and when shown to be incorrect, will just brush it off as a mistake.

    A couple of recent examples:

    Buzzfeed ran a story claiming the Trump brothers ditched paying a bar tab in Ireland after buying drinks for everyone, when this tab had been paid in full by the Trump company. They later had to issue a statement correcting their mistake after the bar owner spoke up.

    Yesterday a NYTimes reporter claimed that Dan Crenshaw wasn't a sponsor of the 9-11 victim compensation fund. This was incorrect and the tweet was deleted, after it had been seen and spread a few hundred times.

    Everyone should learn how to check their own biases and maybe diversify their sources of trusted news. Journalists particularly should brush up on ethical reporting and go back to double checking their facts before publishing something derogatory, which just fuels the political division.

  • Soccer ⚽ Coach St. George, UT
    June 12, 2019 12:48 p.m.

    Alex Jones didn't spend 2 years pushing a phony Russia conspiracy theory, but CNN did. Alex Jones didn't push a hate crime hoax with Nick Sandmann and Covington Catholic, but MSNBC did. Alex Jones didn't harp on "Hillary is inevitable" for two years, but the Mexican-controlled New York Times did. Alex Jones didn't deny the crisis at the border, but the Mormon Media did.

    So, who is the real fake news?

    Time to break up the Twitter monopoly into multiple "twitters" and let them battle it out. With market forces, they will not be able to exclude people from the "public square."

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    June 12, 2019 10:48 a.m.

    Too funny, whenever there's an article about fake news the far right immediately goes after established news sources as fake.

    For some reason they also follow a president who has a penchant for dishonest statements, lies and passing on fake news from far right racists as facts.

    I find it interesting that for these trump loyalists, the rest of the world is lying to them, except for those who speak praise of Donald, even Fox got hit in the comments as starting to lean left, which is hilarious.

    Could it be that under donald, the extremists formerly conservatives in name only, have gone so far right, that they don't recognize the dictatorial nature of donald? His obstruction, his abuse of power, and the lies, just so many lies, how can any one with an once of morals defend such behavior from a president?

    Of course this bring us to the fake news question, and who pushes the fake over reality.

  • Autumn Meadow South Jordan, UT
    June 12, 2019 9:10 a.m.

    Those are good points in the article about the different ways that Republicans and Democrats define "fake news," and it's evident from the comments here which way some commenters lean.

    A free press is SO important to a free country. That means that the press does need to report what happens, even if (especially if) it is unflattering to elected leaders. Our elected leaders need to be accountable to the people for their behavior.

    When people use lies and propaganda to promote one way of thinking instead of seeking the truth, it increases the divide in our "union" and encourages ignorance. According to the Mueller report, this was one of the goals of Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

  • Back Talk Federal Way, WA
    June 12, 2019 8:13 a.m.

    I guess "fake news" will spread when both the people in the Kamala Harris affair admit to it.

    As for Twitter helping prevent fake news as suggested in the headline, that would be hard when Twitter is a sesspool of fake news and bullying itself

  • bamafone Salem, UT
    June 12, 2019 8:09 a.m.

    Most of them are leftists, and fake.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    June 12, 2019 7:17 a.m.

    The very likely danger here is exactly like we see at Facebook and Youtube: They ban or censor some legitimate fake news as a pretext, but then also ban, censor, and deplatform a lot of merely "conservative opinion". Those who don't pay attention don't notice the silencing of the less-famous names being silenced.
    There is another aspect to this: the whole pretext of the "Russian collusion" narrative was that "foreign entities" were influencing our opinions on social media. But all these social media platforms accept international accounts and also want to promote the greatest possible worldwide audience. That means that their policies are intended to not offend anyone in the entire world. The net effect is that foreign entities can express political opinions about American politics, but American citizens cannot respond with the full freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution. This gives an inherently socialist bias to any discussion.

  • AT Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 12, 2019 6:27 a.m.

    So much to unpack from this editorial... First, Fabula, by definition, seems to limit fake news to social media outlets. OK, yes, fake news happens there. However, how about all the fake news coming from CNN, NYT, Fox (you name the outlet, they all have their agenda) and other "respected" news outlets? It seems that Fabula is designed to promote the media establishment way of thinking.

    This editorial comes the day after Veritas showed that Pinterest does in fact censor conservative content. Or, is Veritas considered fake news because the media establishment hates them? Also why is it the Veritas story didn't hit the Deseret News?

    Why is it that black nationalist content is completely ok on Social media, but white nationalist content is considered fearful? (not advocating one way or another, just wondering why there's a double standard)

    Oh, and at the top of the article, the statement about the US Government (who is no stranger to systematic meddling in foreign elections) found "Russians led a systematic campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election using fake social media posts" - well, that's not a completely accurate statement either. More fake news?

  • Butch wax , 00
    June 12, 2019 6:25 a.m.

    Rick for Truth - Provo, UT

    Good comment.

    Pretty much all media is biased left, some more than others. Even the ole' Fox is heading left. The last two year MEDIA BLITZ hasn't helped with "news trust", just exposed it.

    June 12, 2019 12:23 a.m.

    Ai could end up spreading more fake news.

  • Rick for Truth Provo, UT
    June 11, 2019 10:40 p.m.

    The problem with fake news is those on the left feel any point of view from conservatives is fake news. Conservatives have seen MSM attack them non stop 24 7 for the past 30 years. This is the main reason talk radio and cable channels like Fox News has flourished, there was a hole of no conservative points of view and they filled it. I am proud to be called names of all type by liberals, I stand up for the constitution, liberty, freedom, and yes justice. If this makes me evil, then so be it!