Artificial Intelligence a tool for those creating and combating fake news

The rise of fake news across social media platforms pushed the Associated Press to launch a tool called AP Verify. (Shutterstock)
Updated 26 June 2018

Artificial Intelligence a tool for those creating and combating fake news

DUBAI: With the everchanging technological landscape the world is witnessing, Artificial Intelligence’s impact on the world of journalism has proved to be a double-edged sword, the Associated Press’ Director of News Partnerships Lisa Gibbs explained at Dubai’s Arab Media Forum on Tuesday.
“The biggest issue we face today is the war on fake news. AI will be a powerful tool for those seeking to create it and those seeking to combat it,” she said, adding that, “technology is getting better at creating fake images and thus we need to build tools to spot these fake images, the same goes for text and video.”
The rise of fake news across social media platforms pushed the Associated Press to launch a tool called “AP Verify” which allows AI to assess and verify news extracted from social media, Gibbs explained.
With this, AI is being introduced to more speedily form news stories based on verified minimal information supplied – thus churning out 3,700 stories a day in comparison to the 300 done solely using human journalists.
Gibbs explains that AI has the ability to create stories from merely reading data files; it also has the ability to create multiple versions of the same story to suit different platforms from broadcast and print media to digital.
While AI seems to be taking over the jobs of human journalists, Gibbs highlighted that no jobs were lost due to this – rather journalists were freed to be involved in more investigative and analytical work.
While the introduction of AI changes the way news is told by becoming more automated, the ethics and editorial principals “must stay the same,” Gibbs said.
Artificial intelligence is not the only factor playing a role in the changing landscape of storytelling, with visuals and interactives solidifying the shift in news consumers’ demands.
“The question now is: are you interested in visual news, in big themes? The consumers answer is yes, which has a huge impact on the way we tell news,” Agence-France-Presse’s Global Editor-in-Chief Phil Chetwynd said in a separate session.
“We have the capacity, through images, to tell stories we couldn’t before – all you need is internet, or at the simplest level a mobile phone – which will allow the reality to tell information in a very powerful way,” he added.
The rise of user-generated content and eye-witness media proved to be a significant in expanding the scope of where news comes from, Chetwynd explained, with 2015’s Charlie Hebdo attack being a key example of an image taken by an eye-witness being used by leading global outlets covering the incident.


Photojournalism key to promoting tolerance in digital age, world summit told

Updated 13 November 2019

Photojournalism key to promoting tolerance in digital age, world summit told

  • Fact checking essential in a media increasingly reliant on citizen journalism
  • Increasing risk of falling foul of what some call 'fake news'

DUBAI: Every picture tells a story and with the rise of digital media the camera may be a journalist’s only tool to accurately convey information while playing a role in promoting tolerance among the masses.

Sharing this view was a panel of journalists and media professionals speaking at the World Tolerance Summit being held at the Madinat Jumeirah resort in Dubai between Nov. 13 and 14.

Exploring tolerance practices from around the world under the theme “Tolerance in Multiculturalism: Achieving the Social, Economic and Humane Benefits of a Tolerant World,” the summit’s second edition was expected to gather 3,000 participants from more than 100 countries, including top-level officials, peace experts, diplomats and youth.

Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, editor-in-chief of Sayidaty, Arrajol, and Al-Jamila magazines, kicked off the first day of the conference by calling on media outlets to enhance their approach to the delivery of news through frequent on-the-ground reporting and visual material.

In an era of citizen journalism and social media influencers, news media outlets have often been blamed for playing a key role in spreading false information and reporting fake news.

To combat this perception, Al-Harthi said print and digital media must elevate their standards by incorporating fact-checking tools into their day-to-day reporting.

“We must also identify the people affected in news stories in order to impact readers and bring them back to values such as tolerance. If there is no camera, there is no news,” he added.

Al-Harthi noted the importance of adopting platforms such as social media that allow news outlets to engage with their audience, creating a channel to exchange views and feedback. He pointed to Sayidaty magazine’s 2013 “White Campaign” against child brides as an example of positive use of social media to encourage the “voiceless” to tell their stories.

The campaign reached more than 42 million people in the Arab world, gaining the support of members of the Saudi royal family, government officials, journalists and NGOs from throughout the region.

Running for a period of three months, it focused on countries known to previously tolerate child marriages such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Yemen, with the goal of pressurizing governments to increase the minimum age for marriage and criminalize sexual abuse.

“This was one of the most successful campaigns carried out by the media as we were able to stop five marriages involving children in three countries,” said Al-Harthi.

Commenting on the power of images and video in news reporting, Anelise Borges, Paris-based correspondent for Euronews France, described social media as a “double-edged sword.”

She said: “The entire world is struggling to find a balance between freedom of speech and responsibility and accountability.”

Borges talked about her 10-day experience onboard the Aquarius, a vessel operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and SOS Mediterranee, capturing human stories of men, women and children who risked everything to reach Europe in search of a better life.

Sailing across the Mediterranean, Borges witnessed the rescue of two rubber boats overcrowded with refugees who had travelled long distances to escape the violence of war.

“We had seen these migrants as victims, poor people, and masses without names or faces. I wanted to go there and see who we are talking about and let them speak for themselves,” said Borges.

With the issue of migrants and refugees considered a major crisis in Europe, Borges pointed out that it was their voices that were “missing in the conversation” among governments today.

Through raw images and videos documenting distressing stories of struggle, Borges said she was able to explain to viewers and decision-makers the impact their choices and decisions were having on migrants.

“Our job as journalists is to tell a story, which only works through engagement and conversation with the people involved,” she said, stressing the importance of empathy. “It is not us versus them anymore.”

Sharing the same views, panelist Mohammed Khairy, a director and producer with Saint Films in Egypt, discussed his efforts to raise awareness about Christian Egyptians through his film “Jesus was here.” 

Traveling around the country to identify different sects of Christians, he documented individual stories, reflecting their struggles from a “cinematic perspective.”

In his documentary, he sheds light on the history of Christianity in Egypt, with hopes to influence intolerant views in the society of the “so-called minority” group.

“As a film director, you put a lot of effort into research and fact-checking and verifying information whether it’s from a book, a person, or a verified source,” said Khairy, commenting on the challenges facing journalists in the news industry. “At times, the process in film can take up to a year to finalize,” he added.