Google’s AI is already ahead in the war against fake news

Written by on November 21, 2017 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

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Google’s AI already paying dividends. Both Google and Facebook have a fake news problem but Google’s leadership in AI means that it is likely to have a better solution and will not have to materially impact the financial performance of the company to fix it.

Over the last 2 years, Google, Facebook, Twitter and so on have become far more important when it comes to delivering current events to users. This is particularly relevant when certain events occur that result in regular citizens present at these events uploading videos and commentary long before the more established media outlets can arrive on the scene.

  • As a result, important information often appears on Google, Facebook and Twitter first, meaning that the accuracy and veracity of this information is of paramount importance.
  • Unfortunately, during these sorts of events, there is often a scarcity of information available making it the easiest time to successfully propagate fake news.
  • This is the problem with which both Facebook and Google are wrestling, but from looking at how both are dealing with it I think there is a huge gap between these two players.
    • Facebook: To combat this problem, Facebook has announced that the total number of employees working on safety and security will be doubled from 10,000 to 20,000.
    • Given that the total number of employees at the end of June 2017 was 20,658, this implies that 50% – 60% of all Facebook employees will be working in non-revenue producing positions.
    • This will mean that costs will meaningfully outstrip revenues leading to a “significant” decline in profitability.
    • These humans are being shipped in to deal with the problem because Facebook’s AI is not even close to being good enough to deal with it
    • Furthermore, I think that this is a problem that humans cannot really solve given the velocity that is required.
    • Google: to be fair to Facebook, Google’s data tends to be somewhat more structured than Facebook’s making it easier to analyse but this does not come close to explaining the difference in AI ability.
    • Although Google remains reluctant to discuss the methods it is using to combat this problem, this is something that it has been dealing with for many years and there has been no sudden increase in current for forecasted headcount.
    • There has also been no sudden decline in gross margins (current or forecasted) which would indicate that Google had taken on contractors to help fix the problem.
    • While Google does use fact checking services to ascertain the veracity of some of the content that appears in its searches, I think that almost all of its efforts are going into closing the loopholes in its algorithms that allow fake news to surface.
    • This is why there is no financial impact on Google from this problem compared to Facebook.
  • Furthermore, I think that using humans to combat fake news will end in failure.
  • This is because it takes the human system around 2-3 days to reliably label an article or item as fake by which time is has trended and already been seen by millions of users.
  • Consequently, I do not think that having tens of thousands of humans scouring Facebook for fake news will actually solve the problem.
  • Hence, I think that this will result in $1bn+ of shareholders money being wasted in every year that humans are being used.
  • This highlights the gravity of the AI problem that Facebook is trying to deal with and think it is one that Google is much closer to solving.
  • Hence, I see Google being able to far more effectively manage this problem and at a fraction of the cost.
  • From a shareholder value perspective, perhaps it is time to consider switching from Facebook to Google.

This article was first published on Radio Free Mobile.

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Richard Windsor

About the Author

About the Author:

Dr Richard Windsor is the founder of Radio Free Mobile which is an independent research provider. The research helps clients to understand and evaluate the players in the digital ecosystem and presents a unique perspective on how all the pieces fit together in an easy to read and digest way. The product is available on a subscription basis and counts members of the handset, telecom carrier, Internet, semiconductor and financial industries as its subscribers. RFM is the land of the one man band meaning that Dr. W. also makes the tea.

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