Distributed Fact Checking: An Antidote to Fake News and Manipulative InformationBio


#1

I propose we as a community come up with a solution in the fight against manipulation and fake news.

Not via governance but Instead via human distributed fact checking. And potentially even a type of content license via the network similar to copyright.

We know the problems SAFE solves online. But there is another issue just as big some might say.

The other problem on the Internet is fake news, manipulation, brain washing, sales and marketing and general influence.

Consumers of content cant be certain that what they’re reading, watching, listening to and then re-sharing is not either completely fake, purposely biased, ideologically motivated, politically motivated or isnt just a sales pitch for a product hidden as an editorial or something.

The worst part is when consumers dont even know to look out for being duped. Think of the children.

This issue is so large it is Zeitgeist level.

I suppose before we continue it’s true to say that there is no final all encompassing solution to these issues because well we can never be sure what someone is thinking or planning and that is afterall human nature, all of it.

If we’re going to try tackling this issue and we should.
At first we have to define what the problems are.

The first is the obvious: fake news. But not just fake news as in the literal publishing of fake content but also content that is backed by political, religious or corporate ideaolgy and interest which swings a specific way for a specific reason.

The second is government propoganda. War propoganda etc.

The third is material that is designed and published for the sole purpose of selling the consumer of the content a product of service.

The fifth is social and shareable content such as images, memes, gig’s, video, audio etc.

The solution should be something where uptake is easy. Perhaps an editing tool? We can offer symbols backed by a type of licence that says basically this information is not paid for, it’s not written by any government agent, it’s not being funded by anyone, no politician is part of it and there is no money being made by it directly. And if there is any of that then there can be a symbol and license for that.

We can define and write the licences to suite. So you might have one license that says this is not politically motivated but it is commercially motivated.

That’ll be the certificate part of it thatll say the publisher of this content says that this article or video is published with a example “citizen journalist” license. You see the symbol and you know what it means but it’s also clickable and can direct the consumer to the relevant information backing the symbol.

The fact checking part can come from the users of the network. Similar to Wikipedia they can add and edit a very short fact check widget (maybe a hundred or so charachters) this can be edited and re-edited continuously by peers in the network forever.

Those fact checks will be summized in the widget but that can be expanded if need be. To show everything. You could even go so far as giving the consumer a score, rating of marker to show them how true somethibg may be, whether it’s being debated or not etc.

So an example might be you have an article or video about the chemical attacks in Syria. In the article it states unequivocally that Assad did it. But a fact checker can come in highlight the contention and say there isn’t enough evidence. So it’s unconfirmed. This might give say a yellow Mark against this part of the article. But then another fact checker comes along and says that’s bs. There is xyz document linked that states it was Assad, that document itself will have the option of being fact checked so then this fact checker removes the yellow marker but there is still an underlined Mark to show What has happened. These guys can go back and forth. And or the article publisher decides he’s just going to remove that part and put an edit log in.

Obviously these tools would need to be accepted by the publisher or uploader. So I’m thinking similar to an editing toolbar how you are offered different tools in how to publish and edit something in the title, tags and body e.g. making something bold, quoting something, hyperlink etc. maybe we could have an option to click off and on the ability to have your media content fact checked and further option of adding a license to tell the reader you are who you claim you are and your writing the piece or posting a podcast or whichever as opinion or entertainment and whatever.

In this way you’ll have certain publications or channels that use the licences and want to be fact checked and you’ll have ones that don’t.

So for example if I’m doing entertainment say comedy videos I couldn’t give two f… Ks about facts and mostly neither would the audience but what if I’m CNN and I decide to use the licence and also be open to fact checking but FOX for example isn’t. Well people will begin to make their own decisions… “oh you listen to fox, dude, please, they’re not even fact checked by distributed peers”.

And I think that with the distribution of fact checking we’ll probably end up having a similar system to open source where there are many unpaid fact checkers but we’ll likely have sponsored or paid fact checkers and they can basically battle it out.

But what I’m wondering is if the network could be of any use in terms of adding credit to good fact checkers based on their checks and history on the network? Could this be done via the public ID?

If this was possible and you had two fact checkers battling it out you could have one of these more senior fact checkers come in and they’re edits and checks hold more weight.

In terms of checking the content producers licence I understand that there is no real way to do this well. Even if you said we’ll institute a stupid blue tick like twitter who’s going to do the verification? That just centralises it. You could take it offline and setup a foundation and vett people that way but that’s just stupid and again centralised. But if you distributed this verification of the licences too and you said we’ll you can use the license but a fact checker can ask for verification if you can’t prove it you have the license removed. What then constitutes proof? This then starts to get all legal and murky.

Or we scrap that idea of licensed symbols but then what is another solution to knowing what it is your confusing and who it was created by? Or is it even an issue?

I’m out of words.

Sorry lots of typos. Will edit later.

Happy New Year everyone!


#2

Tell this to the CBC that censors the comment section of it’s news articles and such. If you try to debate the mainstream you get your comments deleted. I’d imagine the same thing would happen to “distributed fact checking” as the mainstream media doesn’t want to lose control of its narrative. Doesn’t matter if it’s left or right it’s all the same.

I’d say creating a reputational system would be a better idea than trying to immitate copyright or some kind of liscencing system. Let’s say bob’s blog is known to put out good unbiased articles compared to Mary’s magazine that prints definitely biased material. People could vote for Bob and not Mary. Or say they preferred Tim’s Trash instead of Mary’s Mag they could vote his way instead of hers. That’s another advantage to a reputational system: you can catagorize and find out WHY people prefer what they do and start breaking down the cognative dissonance. End of the day people really don’t care about facts. They will blatantly ignore reason if it goes against what they believe in. So it’s best to find out what motivates them and give them choice. I’ve got a room mate that openly will reject logic and facts in favor of his religion. Like blatantly ignore facts and hard evidence. And I’ve talked to all manner of people and seen their minds twist in all kinds of ways. So like I said it’s better to catagorize and create a reputational system than try and create an overlay that may not be used at all.


#3

I concur with the reputation system idea of @Blindsite2k

Off topic, but some general thoughts on the matter of fake versus real; falsehoods versus truth …

Here’s a potential fact --> “Facts are all subjective”. It’s hard for many to really understand or believe that ‘fact’ - which sort of proves the point. IMO, do have a read of David Hume’s “problem of induction”. Try to understand that we are all individuals and there is no means to know what another person knows or what their perceptions of reality actually are. Even Socrates from way back when (according to Plato) had a glimmer of the problem of induction - “the wise man knows he knows nothing”.

The 20th century brought us the scientific method courtesy of Karl Popper. The important aspect of the method was the idea of “falsification” which aims to greatly reduce subjectivity. the scale of unknown (where we all start) to known isn’t black and white, it is black leading into gray that extends out forever. The scientific method helps us to leap forward into the gray and away from the black, but there is no white and there never can be - because we are part of the universe and not apart from it and able to see it all at once with perfect clarity and objectivity. The important takeaway from the work of many philosopher’s of the 20th century (and some before - like Hume and Socrates) but especially Popper: Nothing can ever be proven true. In fact you can’t even put a probability on something absolutely. You can infer a probability of truth from a particular data set, but beyond that, you really cannot know.

People in the sciences and engineering fields build on earlier work pragmatically to move forward just as people and even life in general has always done. Our lack of knowledge of the future is the reason why the maintenance of diversity is so important for life in general (because of extinction due to a genetic failure to guess the future properly) and why IMO we should also allow for diversity culturally as well.

A video I made a number of years ago on the problem of induction:

BTW, regards the video intro, I no longer own earthsociety.org nor do I sell the AnonymOS or AnonoBox anymore (not enough sales).


#4

I think the greatest protection we can ever have against these 4 problems listed, is to foster, nurture and protect the enlightenment ideals: the belief in reason, individual capacity to reason.

When our education makes the inhabitants of the society strong reasoners, that is initself the best way we will ever have to fight fake news, exploitative commercialism, propaganda and the increasingly extremist intolerance towards differences in opinions.

Instead of delegating it to external parts in whom we place faith, we will always as human beings have the Sisyphean task (one of many) of maintaining the basic fundament which is capacity for reason in every individual.

This as opposed to for example the post modern relativism, where everything is subjective, and no facts exist, or pre-modernism where we place faith in authority to provide facts.

I dearly recommend this 2.5 hour talk of philosopher Stephen Hicks, explaining the differences between pre-modernism, modernism and post-modernism, how they came about, and how that looks today:

I would say that both licensing and reputation system is poor at best, but actually detrimental, when it comes to solving these problems, because they try to circumvent the need for individual capacity of reasoning. I think there is no other way than the hard way, to invest in education (the one based on enlightenment ideals), and to trust the ability of an educated and enlighted humanity to withstand and continuously overcome these sorts of constant pressure and challenges.

I don’t believe there is a short cut around that, not technical, political or any other sort. Rather, trying to take the short cut would devalue and underestimate how fundamental this is to our societal progresses over the last couple of centuries.


#5

Aren’t we all biased to varying degrees? Whose news is fake and whose is real? There are plenty of governments/individuals out there that pay operatives to disseminate misinformation online in order to further one agenda or another (eg. US, Russia, Saudi, Soros, etc.). Heck, there are people out there who will gladly do it for free because of their convictions. A distributed fact-checking system would still be prone to abuse by the aforementioned factors, and could potentially have the opposite effect of being an antidote to fake news.


#6

I’d have to disagree with you here. Everything IS subjective including our perception of reality, morality, ethics, and even our very physical senses. A fact is merely something that has been tested by multiple users over time; but each of those multiple users still has subjective perceptions of their own.

To further illastrate this let us assume we tested that an apple was red and all that the participated were human with standard vision that could see what we perceive as white light. What would happen if you introduced an alien into the scenario, or some other creature - say a genetically engineered human maybe to make it more plausable, that could see on a wider light spectrum that perceived that apple to be a different colour than the test participants could perceive? Are they lying? No. Are they hullicinating? No. Is alien entity giving false data? No. The universe is simply bigger than the test parameters and the assumption that our SUBJECTIVE perceptions give us absolute truth.

Another example is if there’s a car accident. Ask anyone there what happened and everyone will give you a different story. Everyone can tell you the truth but no one gives you the whole truth because everyone has a different subjective perception of the experience.

We don’t even smell, taste, see and hear the exact same thing and this can be scientifically proven. So why on earth would anyone think that Truth exists. The only thing that exists is truth, that is to say an objective mish mash of collaboration and comparing notes. That’s where reason comes in. You use intellect and reason to compare what you see with what others have seen and maybe find some middle ground somewhere you can all use in order to do important things like say communicate. Because it doesn’t help if I think the ocean looks blue and Joe thinks it looks green and we can’t have a decent conversation about it. Language itself is just an abstract subjective construct.

And before you ask “If you think everything is subjective why don’t you go try jumping off a cliff and see what happens.” I’d respond by saying it would have the same results as deleting the core operating files on your computer. Abstract and subjective yes but you need them to function and you know by dragging the files to the trash that the computer will not function. You know that by stepping off the cliff you’ll die. Same result. Another way to think of it is this: We create our universe. Nothing exists until we perceive it. You can’t actually prove anything exists until it is observed. Since we expect something to be there in a certain way it is. There’s a whole TED talk on this idea of consciousness. But my point is the idea of subjectivity is not in conflict with rationalism. Rational thought is not about having absolute truth. Rational thought is about analyzing data.


#7

You state that there is no truth, besides the truth you just proclaimed, that “everything IS subjective”. Classic post modernist approach.
Besides, your examples are of human experiences only.
I deleted my post at first because I thought I’m not going to have time for stuff like this :slight_smile: , and it was already stretching to OT (but I did relate it to OP at least somewhat). You now go full OT, so since the topic is highly interesting, maybe you can start new topic after watching the video I linked, so you know what it is I am talking about that you say you disagree with, and we can continue from there.


#8

This would depend on how one defines truth. I said there was no absolute truth and that objective truth was a collaboration of subjective viewpoints. This is not denying truth it’s just saying you can’t know absolutely what’s in someone else’s head or see from someone else’s perspective. Absolute truth would be to experience the multiverse from every point in space-time simutaneously; that is you’d need to be some kind of all knowing all seeing divinity. Mere mortals experience linear 4 dimentional space time reality (as far as we know so far) from a single perspective at a time so… subjective reality hence subjective truth.

Could do but this is hardly off topic as we’re discussing a fact checker. We can’t check facts if we haven’t clearly defined what a “fact” is or agreed on our definition of truth. If truth is subjective then a reputational system makes perfect sense because everyone has their own perspective. If we take the absolute truth road we would be battling over whether x is True or False but then might get into a war over it as easily as one would fight over which God to worship. Science or religion it matters not. Absolute truth results in extremism and more specifically war over ideals. Stalin was atheist. Mengala was a scientist. You don’t need religion to be extreme or unethical. If we’re going to debate fake news and design a fact checker let’s first clearly define what a fact is. If we’re going to have a system to verify what’s true let’s clearly define what “truth” is, or at least the truth the system is seeking.


#9

@oetyng

The philosophical “problem of induction” has never been solved as far as I am aware and I’ve studied this for many years - please do feel free to reply with a solution to it … unless you can, then I submit to you that a “fact” is merely the subjective ‘truth’ being handed down by one authority or another to those people who will not bother to derive their own data and extrapolate their own ‘pragmatic truths’.

As I mentioned earlier, there is no means of determining absolute truth that I am aware (again, please provide a solution to the problem of induction if you can). And so long as we do not have absolute truth, facts must remain subjective - hence we can only pragmatically do our best with our limited knowledge.

There are many ‘facts’ on which we probably ‘pragmatically’ agree - for example, @Blindsite2k reference to the old “jump off a cliff and see what happens” suggestion. Pragmatically, that idea would have dire consequences, so you would put it last in the que of things to try - there are many other experiments one could try that don’t have potentially dire consequences so you do them first. :wink:

I appreciate that a lot of people have difficulty in understanding the problem of induction (which is why I made that video), but in all sincerity I’ve never seen an outright solution to it anywhere … there only appears to be the ‘pragmatic’ solution and that requires an acceptance that none of us have any ‘absolute truths’.

Please do provide a logical or testable hypothesis that solves the problem of induction if you are able. IMO, you’d become one of the greatest philosophers in the history of humankind if you do.


#10

@TylerAbeoJordan, I’m absolutely not. Why would what I wrote have you demanding of me to provide you with anything? Not interested.
Both you and @Blindsite2k are doing some sort of straw man here.

I did indirectly express that I do not consider the post-modernism view to be preferable, and that’s about it.

If you feel you agree with post modernist thinking and that you need to argue with me, well that’s your problem. I have no desire to involve in argument to have you think otherwise.

There is a video provided by a professor in philosophy because it explains very well why I think post modernist view is not preferable - in ~2 hours. I posted it because I am not myself writing all that here. If you are going to argue against what I am talking about, then you could either direct yourselves to what I am actually saying, or what is said in the video, as opposed to all this other stuff you are talking about (i.e. straw man). I am pretty sure neither of you viewed it though.

I am not going to involve in argument with you however (not with any post modernist actually, I sincerely do not have time or even desire to do that), that was not what my post was about.


#11

I don’t believe there is any straw man method being applied here (see definition I took from the web below). My argument against the claims: “that facts contain objective truths and that such facts can be determined” does appear to be a different approach from yours. However when attempting to debate a claim, multiple arguments can be raised in attempts to falsify the claim. Perhaps though we are arguing for no reason - so to clarify --> Are you claiming that facts contain objective truths and that such facts can be determined … or not?

definition of straw man:

Straw Man: This fallacy is a type of red herring in which a writer creates an oversimplified,easy-to-refute argument, places it in the mouth of his opponent, and then tries to “win” the debate by knocking down that empty or trivial argument. For instance, one speaker might be engaged in a debate concerning welfare. The opponent argues, “Tennessee should increase funding to unemployed single mothers during the first year after childbirth because they need sufficient money to provide medical care for their newborn children.” The second speaker retorts, “My opponent believes that some parasites who don’t work should get a free ride from the tax money
of hard-working honest citizens. I’ll show you why he’s wrong. . .” In this example, the second speaker is engaging in a straw man strategy, distorting the opposition’s statement into an oversimplified form so he can more easily “win.” However, the second speaker is only defeating a dummy-argument rather than honestly engaging in the real nuances of the debate.

So are you additionally claiming that my lack of understanding of your pro argument (which you won’t present yourself) is my problem? I hope that you aren’t seeking to win support for the claim without actually having a debate on the pros and cons. If you understand the argument that you have alluded supports the claim, then please do make the effort to present it clearly for all to see. Otherwise, why are you engaging at all (if you don’t clearly understand your argument)?

I’m really not trying to be an ass here (merely attempting to be Socratic in my dialogue) … I’m genuinely open to try to understand your argument if you will explain it yourself in detail. To reciprocate, I am willing to answer any questions about my argument in detail.


#12

Hm you spent about 1.5 hour on that post. Much more than I would be willing to spend arguing with you.

You completely missed that my arguments were to the OP, and that I do not have time or desire to involve in your discussion about something else.

Good day.


#13

Are you not contradicting yourself?

So because I’m slow to write a response, you won’t continue? I apologize for my sluggish response.

I will try to have a good day … and I do truly and sincerely wish one for you as well.


#14

Opp, missed that - (that’s why I’m so slow anyway, have to reread a lot of times) … so you are saying here that I have misinterpreted the claim? I will assume so unless you respond.

I fully apologize for wasting your time.


#15

Wow!

I have not fully read all of these replies but from scanning over them it seems people are throwing up other suggestions.

GO FOR IT!

I have only made half-baked suggestions.

If we can come up with a network wide solution this will potentially be the FREEDOM in Privacy, Security & Freedom!


#16

So you believe in reason and enlightenment ideals but when faced with an actual civil debate you do this:

So why should we take your position seriously if you can’t defend it in a civil debate? And how many times have I had people rebut me saying that posting a youtube is not a substitute for discussion? I’ll post a link and they’ll ignore it. Doesn’t matter who it’s by. You actually want us to watch a 2 and half hour video before rebutting to your post? If you don’t have the time to actually read and engage in a discussion why should we take the time to watch your video?

Seems @TylerAbeoJordan and I are actually exercising more rational thought on this than you are as we are actually taking the time to have a civil discussion and discuss our points and make counterarguments. Is that how rational enlightenment values work?


#17

When some random person, that wasn’t even mentioned in what was written, engages in “debate” with you, it is a good indication that we will see the sort of energy leak vortex that all this is.

I simply choose where I spend my energy. When you were triggered by what I wrote, it lit all the red lights of “endless pointless energy leak”.

That you seem to think that I am obliged to “defend” anything or “debate” with you, just for having expressed thoughts in response to someone else, is just confirmation of that to me.

You don’t need to do anything, in that post I didn’t ask you (or anyone) to do anything. And I don’t care what you take or do not take seriously, what you read or watch.
I expressed some thoughts for anyone to read or ignore at will. If you want to debate me, or have a hard time sorting out why I am not interested in that, then sorry, but still your problem.
It seems hard for you to understand and accept that with limited time, your topic was not my top priority, and that I simply choose freely what I do with my time - I am not bound to spend it on you or anyone demanding my attention, just because I consider enlightenment ideals preferable over post modernism. (Very odd conclusion to make btw.)

You can try spin that any way you want, it only serves to make me want to avoid you, as it just drains energy. It doesn’t give me or anyone else here anything. I hope you have fun with that.


#18

Let me just respond to the OP while ignoring the heated arguments.

If this thing would live on Safe, then everyone is equal and “licensed” means nothing until you add “by whom” because all sides (including those that deliberately manipulate) will release such licenses.

It will be the individual’s job to decide which licenses they would trust and, to go back to your example, FOX’s audience will trust one and CNN’s audience another, so we’re right back at square one, at least from that angle.

From another angle, it may be a step forward. I could pick the few groups I trust and mute everything else. Would it be that much different from what we have today, though? You say distributed but is it really? CNN and FOX are also “distributed” in the sense that it’s not a single person but the work of hundreds or thousands, that work together pushing what becomes a seemingly monolithic agenda.

Truly distributed would mean picking individuals to trust who, in turn, picked other individuals that they trust, and so on, all of which would trickle down to me, nicely aggregated. If enough of my buddies disagree with some stuff then it would be assumed I don’t want to hear it. If some would strongly agree and some would strongly disagree, it would be assumed controversial and interesting, unless I decide I don’t like to argue and say I don’t want such stuff on my feed.

Anything that tries to reach a global agreement about truth is probably not gonna work because everybody is already trying to do that already, defining what’s true from their point of view. However, we could design something to at least help getting it from 2-3 definitions of truth to something more personalized.