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Not sure how to spot fake news? Now, there’s a bot for that

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Ash Bhat and Rohan Phadte
Ash Bhat and Rohan Phadte

Ash Bhat and Rohan Phadte, students at UC Berkeley, have developed a bot to filter fake news stories on Facebook, the first of its kind.

BERKELEY, Calif. (Diya TV) — Fake news has become a serious problem for Facebook in the past year. The rampant spread of misinformation on the site has become such an issue, the social media giant has itself encountered more than one problem trying to combat the matter.

After initially denying his company and its platform had become a harbor for fake news stories, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg publicly vowed in April to address the problem head-on. Zuckerberg’s solution? To introduce third-party fact-checkers to vet information and stories appearing on the site, allowing them to create labels to warn users of potential fake news stories.

So far, the label hasn’t served as much of a solution.

On the sidelines, two students from UC Berkeley have decided to take matters into their own hands.

Ash Bhat, 20, and Rohan Phadte, 19, both computer science majors, developed their own Facebook Messenger bot that, when fed a link, will decipher and tell you immediately whether an article is fake news, or isn’t. Named NewsBot, the duo developed the tool in only a matter of weeks, it is the only such tool of its kind in existence currently.

In addition to sussing out the validity of an article, it also offers a barometer showing whether the article is deemed biased toward the left or right.

In order to train the algorithm that the bot runs on they fed it over 10,000 articles from around the web. The first and largest batch of articles were sourced from sites that skew far on either end of the spectrum. To teach the algorithm to recognize right-leaning content they fed it thousands of articles from Breitbart, as well as articles from BlueDotDaily, to teach it to recognize the opposite.

While the two have recognized it as a useful tool, its development is not yet entirely complete. “We’re still making updates and changes almost every day,” Bhat said.

“We want to get people more informed and make decisions based on their views, as opposed to just being politically biased by what they read,” he added.

“Facebook should be proactive and make it visible that they’re fighting fake news. Right now you can mark an article as fake news from a small drop down at the top, but if you’re a user just scrolling, the feed hasn’t really changed in any way. Facebook owes it to news organizations to bring trust back,” he said.

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Eight South Asian candidates run for San Ramon office

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Eight South Asian candidates run for San Ramon office| Diya TV News

SAN RAMON, California (Diya TV) — We’ll introduce you to the eight candidates of South Asian descent running for San Ramon’s mayor and city council this year. Located in California’s East Bay and renowned for great public schools, San Ramon has seen an explosion in its Indian American population over the last decade. Now community members want to give back and help the city map out its future.

President Trump flew to California to meet with Governor Gavin Newsom and other state officials to discuss the wildfires that have engulfed the state for weeks. Newsom and his team of scientists made it a point to tell Trump climate change is “exacerbating” the wildfires. Toxic air lingers on from California to Washington and new projections indicate the smoke will spread from the Northwest and head to the Midwest.

President Trump announced Indian American Judge Amul Thapar is on shortlist to be named to the Supreme Court if a vacancy happens during his term, joining the likes of Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton.

Silicon Valley venture capital fund Sequoia Capital has invested in the most Indian startups that have become unicorns. Sequoia’s Indian arm has invested in eight unicorns, including Byju’s and Unacademy. SoftBank and Steadview Capital are second with seven unicorns each.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India and China agree on 5-point plan to deescalate

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India, China agree on 5-point plan to deescalate| Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — During a lengthy meeting in Moscow between Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, India and China agreed on a five-point plan to disengage along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a nearly five month standoff. The five-point plan is at the direction of Prime Minister Modi and President Jinping to “not allow differences to become disputes.”

As America commemorates the 19th anniversary of 9/11, there was some bipartisanship on display in New York when Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden and Vice President Mike Pence bumped elbows and spoke briefly ahead of a 9/11 memorial ceremony at the site of the World Trade Center attacks.

As wildfires rage on, toxic air stretched from Washington State to California. Local officials encouraged millions to stay at home to avoid breathing in ash falling from the sky and the poor air quality is likely to continue through the weekend.

Bela Bajaria has been named Netflix’s Head of Global TV, a newly created position for the former network TV executive.

The Memphis Grizzlies announced Sonia Raman will join their team as an assistant coach. She spent the last 12 years as the women’s head coach at MIT and will be the first ever Indian-American to coach in the NBA.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Community rallies behind widow of slain Mississippi hotelier

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Community rallies behind widow of slain Mississippi hotelier | Diya TV News

CLEVELAND, Mississippi (Diya TV) — Last month in Cleveland, Mississippi, hotel owner Yogesh Patel was beaten to death by a guest he had evicted. Police arrested Kentarrus Williams in connection with Patel’s death. But his demise has left his widow, Sonam, in a challenging spot, trying to manage her grief and a hotel in an area she has no family. Now, community members have set up a GoFundMe page and a Facebook page dedicated to raising $60,000 for Sonam and they are halfway to their goal.

The 2020 fire season is setting records — and the numbers are hard to digest. In California, 3 million acres and counting have burned, featuring 6 of the top 20 largest wildfires in state history. At least eight people in California, Oregon and Washington have died from the latest wildfires and Oregon’s governor believes the death and destruction toll will just get worse.

The United States Senate voted unanimously to confirm Diane Gujarati as the newest district judge in the Eastern District of New York. Gujarati is now the first Article III judge of South Asian descent in the state of New York.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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