Author: Stephanie Koay


  • Home-made news - abuse of the forwarding function on WhatsApp / home-made news content generation on social media causes loss of trust in platforms and news
  • Loss of trust by users - who hope to be informed of local / global events in an impartial way.
  • Hurts platforms - trust is a soft selling point for user adoption

Key Problem

Modern devices and the internet allow users and news audiences the ability to

  • (i) Consume articles and media from various online traditional news outlets and social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, News Websites)
  • (ii) Create, upload and distribute their own media and information (Twitter, Facebook etc); and crucially
  • (iii) Share “organic content” privately or semi-privately on their own social media platforms or on private end-to-end messaging functions

Various parts of the population experience a lack of trust in traditional journalism or social media platforms, or simply face information overload, engage in avoidance of news articles. They may rely on their local communities and friends to fact-check and determine the relevance of news articles to suit their various needs - and share them through links / copy and paste methods / liking statuses.

  • Sometimes this is useful - live tweeting an active ongoing event.
  • Sometimes this is just benign - e.g. sharing the location of your favourite doughnut shop
  • Sometimes this is problematic - spread of fake news (e.g. forwarding of articles with no provenance on WhatsApp, copy/pasted/shared), up to problems as dramatic as a lack of digital literacy caused Incitement of violence against the Rohingya, pandemic fake news.

No profit incentive for managers of private end-to-end communications to regulate fake news - WhatsApp, or resourcing problems for social media moderators

  • Revenue from business API integration rather than consumer problems
  • No meaningful way of imposing moderation requirements without imposing disproportionate costs on businesses

How AI can exacerbate this problem:

  • Increasing the volume of the problem. Creating more content which can overwhelm consumers.
  • Black box / AI generated content as a problem of provenance - different kettle of fish.

Key opportunities/Solution ideas?

Content: Technology-based solutions to:

  • identify unsourced content / AI-generated content,
  • promote critical thinking by explaining interests behind a story,
  • cross-reference live user content with other similar sources,
  • explain context, if necessary.