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Automated Fact-checkers (AFC): do we need them?

As information spreads rapidly, Automated Fact-checkers have become increasingly important to verify claims and prevent the spread of misinformation. But do we really need dedicated fact-checkers? There are reasonable arguments on both sides.

Promotes truth and accountability

Fact-checkers help promote truth and accountability by verifying the accuracy of statements made by public figures, media outlets, viral content, etc. This keeps public discourse honest and reputable. Without fact-checking, false information could more easily spread.

Protects against real-world harms

Left unchecked, false claims can result in real-world harm if they encourage dangerous health behaviour, attack marginalized groups, or undermine public institutions. Fact-checkers limit these damages by exposing claims.

What about the impact on Business?

Businesses rely on accurate data, modelling, and messaging. Fact-checking helps ensure business decisions are based on facts, not false or misleading claims.

Direct threats to business interests happen when false claims undermine confidence in companies or sectors. For example, if left unchecked, misinformation around illegal activities or harmful products of certain corporations could spur improper activist or consumer backlash. Similarly, false rumours about the soundness of banks or other financial institutions may trigger market panics.

By confirming truths in these scenarios, responsible fact-checking protects companies from damages based on misinformation campaigns instead of reality.

Investing in expanding fact-checking thus aligns with broader business interests of fostering an economic landscape buffered from volatilities introduced by unchecked false claims made in the era of mass communication. With global and digital business, all companies benefit from keeping messaging honest.

Challenges facing AI -Fact-Checkers (AFC)

Risk of perceived bias

As human-run organizations, fact-checkers must guard against actual or perceived partisan biases. Remaining nonpartisan is vital for public trust. Achieving this can be difficult.

A vast information ecosystem

The vast amount of daily information shared online creates too large an ecosystem for even professional fact-checkers to monitor fully. Important false claims still spread.

Issues keeping up with AI disinformation creators' concerns

New artificial intelligence capabilities to generate synthetic text, imagery, and video content will test the limits of current fact-checking methods and technology, requiring advancement to keep pace.

Challenges so far?

AI fact-checkers are good at analysing written and spoken content for possible false claims. They can easily check factual details on the internet. However, they struggle to understand complex language and context as humans do fully.

AI has trouble researching, interpreting and verifying more nuanced political or scientific statements.

So, while AI helps by flagging questionable material faster, people are still better judges for complicated fact-checking. Humans understand nuance and can research context. Current AI lacks the language skills and critical thinking skills for sophisticated verification like people. It cannot replace human expertise and care here. However, future AI that explains and understands better may fully assist human fact-checkers.

In the end, AI fact-checking may provide more benefit than harm, even with its limitations. And investment to improve fact-checking methods and capacity would be valuable for democracy, public health, science integrity, business leadership and beyond.

What is your view about AI-based fact-checkers to mitigate and expose sources of misinformation?


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