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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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Biden, Modi meet and with the Quad Leaders’ Summit

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Biden, Modi meet privately & with the Quad | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the White House for the first in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit.  PM Modi held a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden. PM Modi is on a three-day visit to the United States, his first official visit to the country since Biden took the office. On Thursday, Modi held separate meetings with Vice President Kamala Harris.

President Biden will also nominate Indian American Erik Ramanathan, a longtime political ally and fundraiser to serve as ambassador to Sweden. Ramanathan joins a record 70 plus Indian Americans working in the Biden administration. 

The Houston doctor fired for distributing expiring COVID-19 vaccines instead of throwing them out claims he was punished for giving “the vaccine to too many individuals with ‘Indian’ sounding names. Dr. Hasan Gokal has sued Harris County Public Health for $1 million, alleging that the agency “demonstrated a pattern of discrimination and hostility against Dr. Gokal based on his South Asian race and Pakistani national origin.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Harris, Modi meet in-person for the first time

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Harris, Modi meet in-person for the first time | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has officially started his U.S. tour and met face to face for the first time with Vice President Kamala Harris.  They discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region at a time when the U.S. is trying to solidify its pivot toward Asia and strengthen ties with allies to take on China’s growing influence in the region. In addition, Modi met with the Prime Minister of Australia and the heads of Adobe, Blackstone, and Qualcomm.

Electric car maker Tesla broke ground on a new production facility in California and will produce the company’s large-scale battery system called Megapack. News of the previously unannounced factory was confirmed by Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal in a Facebook post that was deleted and re-posted. The Indian American Mayor says  “The future of green energy will be produced right here in our community.”

Sony Pictures Networks India has agreed to acquire Zee Entertainment. If the deal materializes, it will bring together two of the largest broadcasting giants in India that run large cable television networks, streaming services, music labels, and own scores of other digital assets, to better compete with companies like Netflix and Disney.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Sachin Gupta to head Timberwolves basketball operations

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Sachin Gupta named T-Wolves basketball OPS head | Diya TV News

SAINT PAUL (Diya TV) — The NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves have promoted Sachin Gupta to interim head of basketball operations. This is a historic move making Gupta the first person of Indian origin to run an NBA basketball organization. Gupta began his career as a special advisor with the Houston Rockets and since then has held several executive roles with other teams.

A  mega drug bust for India .Officials say they seized nearly three tonnes of heroin originating from Afghanistan worth nearly 3 billion dollars amid the chaos following last month’s takeover of the country by the Taliban. Two people have been arrested so far and the investigation is on going.

India’s Fresh Works is getting ready to launch it’s initial public offering valuing the customer relationship software company at more than 10 billion dollars. The company started off in Chennai India but is now based in California, and says it wants to compete with rival Salesforce in the US. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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