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US Department of Defense to start scanning articles, photos, videos, and audio to combat “fake news”

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The US Defense Department is not taking “fake news” lightly as it will soon launch a project aimed at repelling what it calls “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks.” The department deems fake news a threat to national security.

One of the steps to be taken by the Department will be carried out by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) who will be deploying customs software that can unearth fake news and other “misinformation” that is hidden among more than 500,000 stories, photos, video and audio clips. After four years, if the software implementation is successful it will be expanded to in detecting malicious intent and preventing viral fake news from spreading.

According to DARPA, by increasing the number of algorithm checks, they can spot fake news with malicious intent before going viral. This can be done through the use of a comprehensive suite of semantic inconsistency detectors that will make it more difficult for media falsifiers to carry out malicious schemes, says Bloomberg.

“A decade ago, today’s state-of-the-art would have registered as sci-fi — that’s how fast the improvements have come,” said Andrew Grotto at the Center for International Security at Stanford University. “There is no reason to think the pace of innovation will slow any time soon.”

Also, the software will require creators of falsified media to get every semantic detail correct, while defenders only need to find one, or even a few inconsistencies.

DARPA also said that the so-called SemaFor technologies will be able to identify, deter and understand adversary disinformation campaigns. This is not yet seen on current surveillance systems that are prone to “semantic errors.”

Aside from SemaFor, DARPA is also running a research program called MediFor. The purpose of the research program is to plug a technological gap in image authentication, as no end-to-end system can verify the manipulation of images that were taken by digital cameras and smartphones.

According to DARPA’s website, mirroring the rest in digital imagery is the associated ability for even relatively unskilled users to manipulate and distort the message of the visual media. Although many of these manipulations are benign and are performed for fun or artistic purposes, there are others which serve adversarial purposes including black propaganda and misinformation campaigns.

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