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Battling fake news

(NewsUSA) – From election-season opinion polls to holiday-season parties, “fake news” is everywhere – and the harm goes beyond what’s said on the evening broadcast or the dinner table.

The new Intelligence Interim Panel Report from the bipartisan Special Competitive Studies Project argues that technological advances in artificial intelligence and new media platforms such as TikTok allow for more messages, real and fake, to flood the open information environment. Many people repeat fake news without realizing that it is fake, according to the report. Fake news may be disinformation or outright propaganda from foreign governments.

“U.S. rivals increasingly resort to the aggressive use of digitally enabled disinformation to target U.S. decision-making, America’s reputation abroad, and social cohesion at home,” according to the report. “The scale, scope and the snowballing effect of these influence operations make disinformation a particularly acute concern for national security.”

Older social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have tried to mitigate disinformation after facing years of criticism of spreading news and information most likely to be shared, with no verification of authenticity.

The newer and popular TikTok platform poses additional risks; its endless and rapid-fire scroll means users have less time and inclination to scrutinize what they see. Some in the national security sector also suspect the platform of providing data to the Chinese Communist Party leadership.

The report recommends several ways the U.S. can counter false information, including communicating common false narratives and themes to Americans and “prebunking” false information that is likely to enter the mainstream. The U.S. did this earlier this year when it alerted Americans of Russia’s intent to invade Ukraine, preempting Russian disinformation campaigns about the conflict and building American support for Ukraine, a strategy the report states “should be replicated whenever possible.”

The report also advises fighting AI with AI by training machines how to identify dangerous, harmful and false information. People play a role, too; all Americans can support digital literacy. Stay skeptical of your social media by checking sources, authors and dates, reading beyond the headlines and beyond the individual news items, checking biases and asking experts.

“Technology certainly challenges democracy,” said former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice at the recent Global Emerging Technology Summit. “But to the extent we can point out and replicate those places where technology helps the citizens to live better without fearing government, democracy will have the edge.”

Visit scsp.ai to learn more.

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