Combatting fake news, Logically
Lyric Jain, a Cambridge University engineering student originally from Mysore, set up Logically last year and has since developed the UK-based start-up into a machine-learning platform to sift fact from fiction. In this interview, the 21-year-old techie reveals plans for a project specifically targeted at India and a first-of-its-kind “intelligent news feed” that he believes may prove to be the future of journalism
How does Logically work to combat fake news?
The Logically platform gathers the biggest news stories from over 70,000 domains and determines the credibility of the claims across each article. It does this by using a machine learning algorithm that is designed to detect logical fallacy, political bias, and incorrect statistics.
By illuminating the quality of information across these articles, Logically provides users with a transparent and insightful view that allows them to determine how trustworthy the news they read really is.
In India, there have been cases of killings directly related to fake news. How would your project tackle that?
WhatsApp has over 200 million users in India. Because the WhatsApp messaging system is encrypted, it makes it extremely difficult for law enforcement to intervene and stop fake stories spreading.
Because of the highly emotive nature of these stories, people are quick to react. This means the time it takes to disprove compelling fake news stories is often too long to prevent action being taken.
Logically will use AI to enable people to accurately assess the validity of information faster than any human can. By using our platform, people will be able to qualify information in the same moment they interact with it, meaning they are less likely to be compelled to act on misinformation or fake news.
We are still exploring options such as an instant verification chatbot on WhatsApp and will announce our plans by the end of the year.
What are your future expansion plans for the company?
We plan to improve the entire information ecosystem by partnering with journalists, publishers, and advertising technology companies. The more of a genuine insight these entities have into the credibility of the information they publish, or the credibility of sites they partner with, the better.
What more can the state be doing in this field?
Education. The technology we are developing will equip people with the tools they need in order to navigate a complex and confusing information landscape better than before, but governments still need to do a better job educating people on the real dangers of interacting with misinformation.
Some background on the company’s genesis.
Logically has a board of advisers made up of alumni from both Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US and Cambridge University in the UK and has raised £1 million in funding. It employs 38 people across the UK, India and US and is planning to almost double that figure.
The platform, which is currently going through technology trials with partners and advisors, will have its full public launch in September for the UK and US, and hit India by October. The aim is for the service to work as a news aggregator as well as an indicator of factual accuracy.
We have been described as a “fake news search engine” and “the credibility layer to the internet”. In a nutshell, at Logically we use Natural Language Processing, machine learning and human oversight to identify bias and misinformation on any given topic. News is assigned a credibility score and ranked on the site accordingly with credible information appearing up top. The Logically platform will make sure that you can quickly consume information that is credible, balanced with factual counterpoints and is logically coherent.
What has been the recent impact of fake news?
The spread of fake news accelerated dramatically during the 2016 US Presidential Election campaign. Groups of teens in Macedonia were found to have been intentionally creating pro-Trump fiction, profiting from their “shareability”.
A Russian propaganda group was found to have been creating pro-Trump fake news in order to give the impression that there was a strong grass-roots movement legitimately supporting his campaign. The influence of these activities is hard to quantify, but the emergence of fake news creation as a way to shape the political landscape is an undeniably dangerous issue.
Fake news that is deliberately designed to look authentic worsens the problem dramatically. Extremist groups have successfully recruited over the past several years by use of their digital channels and the spread of misinformation.