16 Oct European Parliament: Is AI the last hope of solving the fake news problem?
Fake news – the phenomenon as old as time, in the form of lies, disinformation or propaganda. No matter how you call it, it is closely related to the concept of communication. However, it is easy to say that it has intensified in the era of digital communication. The real question is how the European governments can minimize the digitization of disinformation, especially on social media.
Europe vs disinformation
During the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA), European Parliament deputies discussed emerging, tech-led topics related to recent politics. The presented study of Chris Marsden, a lawyer and professor of media law at the University of Sussex in the UK and Trisha Meyer, political scientist, was dedicated to governmental regulations on companies like Facebook or Youtube. The key value of the panel is to regulate disinformation spread on their own platforms and started with the words of the panel’s First Vice-Chair Paul Rübig:
“disinformation caused by global troll industries is against our democratically elected political parties”
Who has an interest in regulating the problem?
The previously mentioned studies emphasize that the obligation to regulate should not rest solely on the shoulders of individual (or collective like the EU) governments. What’s more, Mr Marsden is convinced that the companies themselves should take full responsible for all the false news accusations or consider “co-regulation” –
“Co-regulation means that you don’t trust the companies to regulate themselves,” he told Euronews. “It doesn’t mean that you will impose a state law that says: ‘you will do X,Y and Z’ because everybody knows the internet is moving fast. But co-regulation says: ‘you will do X or we will do Y’. In other words ‘you will demonstrate your own ability to regulate fake news or we will do it for you’. So it’s threatening the companies with action if they do not engage in proper regulation themselves.”
Is Artificial Intelligence the answer?
Based on Marsden’s studies, the AI can help in removing disinformation once it has been spotted, however single identification requires a human touch. Especially when cultural, national or religious related topics are discussed. The Parliament also highlighted the Europeanness of the governments’ activity, which needs to:
“make sure that what companies do is actually engage European fact-checkers, European citizens to work on appeals, Europeans to work with their Artificial Intelligence programmes to actually resource properly their own attempts to stop fake news.
You can’t simply have people in California, or a bunch of people you’ve hired off the internet, from the Philippines or in India, to regulate European fake news. It has to be Europeans. They must have some kind of training in journalism and human rights law because they’re being asked to make judgements on journalistic opinion and about freedom of expression.
Unless we actually engage Europeans to work for these companies – and this will be unpopular because this is expensive – unless we do that we cannot solve this problem in Europe.”