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"Truth goggles" to spot dubious claims in news articles

"Truth goggles" to spot dubious claims in news articles

In the MIT Media Lab, Dan Schultz, newly named Knight-Mozilla fellow, is working on something that could benefit journalists and readers alike, Nieman Lab reports. His invention could change the way you see the world - but he is not developing a pair of rose tinted spectacles - Schultz is creating "truth goggles".

These "truth goggles" are intended to take the form of open source software that journalists and readers alike can download for free and then, when they read articles, any claims that seem to be founded on dubious information would be highlighted and brought to the readers attention.

The software will rely on natural language processing, the same kind of technology that enables Siri to understand human speech, and analyse articles looking for statements that match subjects covered by research contained in the PoltiFact database. Subjects discussed in articles that match the database can then be given an equivalent rating, from 'true' all the way down to 'pants on fire'.

The notion of encouraging critical thinking and improved media consumption has become increasingly important subject as more and more people consume more and more media via an increasing number of platforms. Another MIT Media Lab project, called Media RDI, which aims to create a system that would measure the content value of news and assess whether users are consuming a balanced media diet with a wide variety of sources and subjects.

PolitiFact itself, which is still navigating possible monetising strategies, has released an app that helps it monetise its Pulitzer Prize winning idea but also allows people to take their fact checking on the road. The mobile nature of modern media means that fact checking must be portable too.

This is why Schultz' "truth goggles" could be so useful. If the software is installed on a device, be it a PC, tablet or mobile, then there is an automatic fact checking service that can accompany you where ever you go and tell you when the media you consume is reporting factually incorrect information.

Sources: MIT Media Lab, Nieman Lab, PolitiFact (1), (2)



Katherine Travers


2011-11-24 13:28

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