While it’s easy to criticize Facebook and Meta for not fact-checking posts, there’s no doubt that the job would be hard for anyone to attempt. Acknowledging that the job is a hard one, Meta has announced that they are building a new fact-checking AI called Sphere so that the company won’t have to do it themselves.
Is Sphere the future?
Meta built Sphere as a way to combat misinformation but the company will be testing this AI before unleashing it. Apparently, Sphere is going to scan Wikipedia and identify when citations are wrong or weakly supported. It’s a huge test since Wikipedia gets new articles every day. So expect Meta’s AI to be challenged with this.
“[The process] calls attention to questionable citations, allowing human editors to evaluate the cases most likely to be flawed without having to sift through thousands of properly cited statements,” says Meta. “If a citation seems irrelevant, our model will suggest a more applicable source, even pointing to the specific passage that supports the claim.”
Basically, it’s an AI that will double-check articles to make sure they’re the real deal. It’s a fairly promising idea and one that could combat all the fake news around. Considering how Facebook has let all the fake news spread in recent years, the fact that they’re only releasing the AI now is kind of hilarious.
Why focus on Wikipedia?
Considering the current fight against fake news, many have wondered why Meta and Facebook would focus on Wikipedia first. According to Meta, the company will be focusing on Wikipedia since the site is often referenced and continues to be a source of information to many.
“As the most popular encyclopedia of all time - with some 6.5 million articles - Wikipedia is the default first stop in the hunt for research information, background material, or an answer to that nagging question about pop culture,” says Meta. “But sometimes that quick search for information comes with a nagging doubt: How do we know whether what we’re reading is accurate?”
Wikipedia has been kind of a joke in recent years, though teenagers and children likely use it as a source for information when it comes to their assignments. Making Wikipedia better is probably a good start and it will be interesting to see if this fact-checking AI can actually be used to fight fake news.