The Social Media Lie Detector Project

Posted on Feb 27 2014 - 1:15pm by Paul

Haven’t there been times in your life when a social media lie detector could have come in handy? Of course there have been.

Well, there is a project underway – called Pheme – which could be just what you need. The work is being carried out at the University of Sheffield and was partially inspired by the London riots in 2011.

The idea is that the system will work in real time to try to assess whether a social media posting is true or not.  It can also be used to work out what social media accounts have been set up with the sole purpose of spreading false rumours.

Will Allow Fast and Accurate Responses

riotThis will, hopefully, allow the likes of government agencies and emergency services to respond to any event which are genuinely unfolding, while ignoring any lies being spread.

Dr Kalina Bontcheva is a lead researcher on the project and she pointed out that after the 2011 riots some people suggested the social networks should have been closed so that rioters couldn’t organise themselves using them.

The team working on the new lie detector have been analysing the posts and tweets made during the riots in order to come up with the following four types of online rumour; speculation, controversy, misinformation and disinformation.

As well as false information and deliberate lies, the social media networks can also provide useful information as well. However, the problem to date has been that the situations can make too quickly for the posts to be properly analysed.

The lie detector will check the sources of the information and look into the history of the posting account to verify if it is likely to be true. At the moment only text will be analysed, as analysing photos is seen as being too difficult and time consuming for the system.

Do you think a social media lie detector could work?

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