Lie Detector for Tweets? Researchers Working on It

'Pheme' aims to weed out deception online

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 19, 2014 7:40 PM CST | Updated Feb 19, 2014 8:00 PM CST

(Newser) – European researchers say they're developing a system that can sniff out lies on Twitter, Facebook, and all manner of social media, reports the BBC. The goal of Pheme is to keep false rumors from gaining traction, and researchers say they can do so by analyzing where the tweets and posts come from, assessing their honesty, and reporting results back to users in real time, reports the Telegraph. The initiative is funded by the European Union and grew out of a spate of posts that spread false information during the 2011 London riots.

Forget Photoshopped photos, though. "We will not be doing image analysis, so we won't be looking to see if a photo has been altered—it's too technically difficult," says one of the researchers from the University of Sheffield. Pheme is expected to be ready for testing in about 18 months, and journalists will get the first crack at it. The false tweets will get lumped into four categories, notes the Daily Mail: speculation, controversy, misinformation, and disinformation, with only the latter involving deliberate lies.

  (Shutterstock)
A polygraph examiner applies electrodes on the fingers of a subject.
A polygraph examiner applies electrodes on the fingers of a subject.   (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
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