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Researchers use AI to flag “misinformation” in podcasts, call for tech companies and regulators to “meet this challenge”

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The Brookings Institution appears to be taking not only podcasting, but also “the war on podcasting” very seriously indeed.

A huge write-up (presented as the result of a research) published on the organization’s website this February, accuses some podcasters, especially those labeled as “political,” of spreading disinformation pretty much unchecked.

In order to find “misinformation” in podcasts and determine its scope, the authors say they turned to “AI” and at the same time issued a call to tech companies and regulators to “meet this challenge” – one of “greater transparency across the board – in terms of content moderation practices, financial disclosures, and algorithmic amplification by podcasting apps.”

Related: Podcasting is likely the next censorship target

And the question the article seems to want to answer is, how to stop this – i.e., take over what appears to be one of the last online media fairly resistant to censorship that is now the mainstay on social platforms.

The “trouble” with podcasts and the difficulty in controlling the media and getting it to, as a whole, toe any particular political or ideological line, is the technology that powers it.

Although podcasting has now become a business with various producing outfits as intermediaries – and those companies certainly can be pressured to censor just like legacy media, or even drop and cancel talent – at the heart of podcasting is still the availability to directly reach listeners via RSS feeds. So the decentralized nature is what makes it so “problematic” to those trying to impose “regulatory oversight.”

It is a world where, to the Brookings Institution’s apparent horror, while citing a podcasting pioneer, “anyone can be a publisher, anyone can be a broadcaster.”

It “gets worse”: the article cites an early 2021 episode of the Verdict with Ted Cruz, where co-cost Michael Knowles at one point commented that, “It’s a podcast: you can say whatever you want!”

Surely, no democratic society could possibly withstand such heresy /s.

So the Brookings Institution enlisted the help of an “AI-fact checking” program, which also involved the likes of Politifact and Snopes “fact-checkers” to sift through millions of hours of content, all with the goal of proving a particular point – even, one suspects, a point determined in advance.

And they think they succeeded. “Conservative podcasters were 11 times more likely than liberal podcasters to share claims fact-checked as false or unsubstantiated,” said the article.

The Brookings method that apparently relies on “AI” is something that critic Walter Kirn had no problem calling a “sciency bullshit” – that would like to make censorship “a mathematical, not Constitutional, concern.”

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

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