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911fake

The “tourist guy” pic, allegedly taken on top of the World Trade Center in NYC just seconds before the 9/11 attacks, is a classic example of a sensational, fabricated image circulated to millions of internet users, then via email.

Misleading news, doctored visuals, disguised propaganda: The spread of digital mis- and disinformation has become a major problem over the last years, and it looks like the Corona pandemic has led to yet another peak. What better time to start a new verification project: KID, kicked-off in April 2020, will help counter the “infodemic” by fostering media and information literacy (MIL) and exploring artificial intelligence (AI) tools to improve verification processes.

The acronym KID resolves to the German “Künstliche Intelligenz gegen Desinformation” (Artificial Intelligence against Mis-/Disinformation) and is funded by the BKM (Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien = the German Government’s Commissioner for Culture and Media).

Running for 18 months and handled by a DW-only team, KID has two main goals:

  1. Better verification through AI-supported Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) tools:
    Most OSINT tools feature little or no automation so far. KID wants to identify where AI  can best support the identification of manipulated or fabricated digital content (e.g. photos and videos).
  2. Better MIL for young media users and aspiring journalists. KID wants to develop a mobile app prototype that helps users understand and detect mis-/disinformation in an easy, playful way.

More specifically, the project will focus on:

  • automated/AI-driven analysis of information and the detection and exposure of false information
  • social awareness regarding mis-/disinformation and its (negative) effect on social processes and democracy itself
  • a modular (mobile) learning approach to foster MIL and a better understanding of how to quickly detect early stages of mis-/disinformation
  • the compilation of (free/open/trustworthy) software that can help both (younger) citizens and (aspiring) verification experts when it comes to identifying false, fabricated information

KID follows in the footsteps of and is partly linked to other DW verification/MIL projects and services such as Digger, Truly Media, or WeVerify.

We’re excited to work on KID and will soon launch a basic verification toolkit website as a first milestone. Using the hashtag #dw_kid, we’ll keep you posted on our progress via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Let’s go verify, KID!

Alexander Plaum, Tilman Wagner