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Opinion: People evaluate credibility of news by number of likes and reposts

Society 15.01.2020 | 12:43
Viktor Naumov
Viktor Naumov

MINSK, 15 January (BelTA) – Today's society measures the credibility of news by the number of likes and reposts in social media networks, Viktor Naumov, a senior research fellow at the information law and international information security office at the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences, PhD in Law, Assistant Professor said as he took part in another meeting of the Expert Community project “Deepfakes: New Challenge to Information Security” in the BelTA press center on 15 January.

Non-tech-savvy people have no chances to identify deepfakes. Identifying an ordinary fake is also quite a challenge as today's people are overwhelmed by information. In such circumstances analytical skills can fail and the credibility of a news item is measured by its circulation. “We heavily depend on likes. The more likes you get, the more trustworthy you look. This is a sad consequence of the consumerist society when a packaging determines your perception of a product quality. In the information landscape, likes, reposts and comments can be compared to such packaging. The effect of mass distribution distorts perception,” Viktor Naumov said.

This opinion is shared by Director of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research (BISR) Oleg Makarov. “It might seem odd, but today the verification of a news item, an event is determined by its circulation,” he said. Bigger circulation means bigger trust in a news item.

Deepfakes are a synthetic media technology in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else's likeness using artificial neural networks and artificial intelligence. The most prominent example of how artificial intelligence can facilitate the creation of a photorealistic fake video is the video showing Barack Obama slamming today's U.S. President Donald Trump. The video was released in April 2018 on the BuzzFeed platform. At the end of the video its creators said that it was a fake. By releasing this video they sought to bring attention to the dangers of the controversial video-editing technology. The Intelligence Committee of the U.S. Congress held the first hearings on deepfake videos in the summer of 2019. The bill on combating high-tech disinformation was introduced to the U.S. parliament. Facebook has recently announced its decision to remove videos modified by artificial intelligence.

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