Jessica Sieff | March 27, 2020
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are using artificial intelligence to develop an early warning system that will identify manipulated images, deepfake videos and disinformation online. The project is an effort to combat the rise of coordinated social media campaigns to incite violence, sow discord and threaten the integrity of democratic elections.
The scalable, automated system uses content-based image retrieval and applies computer vision-based techniques to root out political memes from multiple social networks.
“Memes are easy to create and even easier to share,” said Tim Weninger, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Notre Dame. “When it comes to political memes, these can be used to help get out the vote, but they can also be used to spread inaccurate information and cause harm.”
Weninger, along with Walter Scheirer, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Notre Dame, and members of the research team collected more than two million images and content from various sources on Twitter and Instagram related to the 2019 general election in Indonesia. The results of that election, in which the left-leaning, centrist incumbent garnered a majority vote over the conservative, populist candidate, sparked a wave of violent protests that left eight people dead and hundreds injured. Their study found both spontaneous and coordinated campaigns with the intent to influence the election and incite violence.
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