Media Literacy

University of Texas-led Research Project Tackles Fake News with Social Bots

A group of University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) researchers is tapping artificial intelligence (AI) to stop the spread of fake news across the internet.

The “Bot vs. Bot: Automated Detection of Fake News Bots” project will focus on detecting social bots on Twitter that publish fake content, according to a UTA prepared statement. These fake accounts are “run by computer programs that automatically publish and forward content, follow other [Twitter] accounts, leave comments and conduct seemingly ‘real’ activity,” the statement explains. “The [University of Texas] team will use highly sophisticated algorithms to combat the bots and spread of fake news.”

As the Bot vs. Bot project’s principal investigator, Chengkai Li, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, told the university that the team plans to shed light on national security threats, as opposed to domestic politics, since many of the bots are created by other countries that are hostile toward the United States. The project’s other collaborators include other computer science and engineering professors as well as journalism and communications professionals.

“We will leverage our research expertise in computational fact-checking, static and dynamic code analysis, data mining and security,” Li told UTA. “The work will be grounded by communication and journalism principles. We will conduct experiments to better understand the interaction between bots and news consumption behaviors and effects.”

The Texas National Security Network Excellence Fund, located at UTA’s nonprofit research facility Clements Center for National Security as well as the nonprofit, multidisciplinary research center Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, have provided a 30,000 grant for the project, The Washington Post reported.

 The fund aims to make UTA the premier university system in the country for national security work by supporting “specific security-relevant projects undertaken by affiliated faculty and institutions from across the system, based on a competitive application process,” its site explains.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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