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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.

Business

Lewandowski spars with Rep. Jayapal in impeachment probe

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Lewandowski

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski sparred with Rep. Jayapal among others, before a House Judiciary committee, taking on a barrage of questions from members of Congress who are trying to build a case towards the impeachment of President Trump.

100,000 petitions were delivered to the Gates Foundation in Seattle, asking them to rescind the award they plan on giving to Indian Prime Minister Modi for his clean India initiative because of his stance on Kashmir.

Federal investigators, including the FBI, are looking into potential misconduct by Mithril Capital, a venture capital firm co-founded by Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan. Royan has a 20 year relationship with Thiel and has raised in excess of $1 billion, $300 million of which came from Thiel. Some investors are frustrated Mithril is sitting on their money rather than investing in startups, while raking in as much as $30 million per year in management fees.

Hundreds of alums from the Indian Institute of Technology gathered in Southern California for their annual convention, featuring some of the brightest minds in technology.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Media

Over 200 Indian American organizations express concerns over Rep. Ro Khanna’s Pakistan caucus membership

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Ro Khanna

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Diya TV) — 230 Hindu and Indian American organizations led by the Hindu American Foundation expressed concern in a letter to Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna about his recent membership to the Congressional Pakistan Caucus and a recent tweet which they say “in effect endorsed the views of “a fringe and extremist anti-Hindu activist, Pieter Friedrich.” Khanna, who is also a member of the Indian caucus, says he joined the Pakistan caucus to have a seat at the table to bring peace to the region.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy is leading a delegation around India, one of four state leaders making plans to visit this year. The governor and his wife visited the Taj Mahal & later met with Prime Minister Modi. 

Sri Lankan American Raj Rajaratnam, a central figure in one the largest hedge fund insider-trading rings in American history, is now out of prison two years early. He is mostly confined to his apartment for the remainder of his sentence, but he can work outside his home during the day.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Howdy, Modi! How come Texas?

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak in Houston

HOUSTON (Diya TV) — For world leaders, shaking hands with President Donald Trump has become a practice akin to the elaborate military drill on Wagah border. Not so much for Prime Minster Narendra Modi. The Trump-Modi camaraderie of banters, hugs, and viral hand-slapping is one more reason that the 50,000 strong crowd is excited to witness the historic ‘Howdy Modi’ community summit on September 22.

A community summit is just that: leaders of the community, politicians, corporates and all supporters of a common cause coming together to collaborate and celebrate. With the tagline ‘Shared Dreams, Bright Futures,’ the event will promote relations that go beyond the ‘America First’ and ‘Make in India’ policies that have often strained diplomatic encounters between the two countries. There couldn’t have been a better venue than Houston, Texas, for all purposes of this event

Slick for Oil

As the second largest state in the U.S., by population and GDP, Texas has significant trade relations with India. India is Houston’s 4th largest trading partner—just behind Brazil, China, and Mexico. The biggest exports from Texas are chemicals, petroleum, and coal. With constantly rising all prices, energy security is a major concern for the Prime Minister. Tellurian, natural gas company headquartered in Houston, is one of the major sponsors of the event.

Indian Diaspora’s ‘Shared Dreams’

The greater Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas have a thriving Indian American community with influential presence across various sectors of the economy. It is a significant voting bank for the Republican governed state to influence for the 2020 elections.

“At a time in the world where there is so much disunity, I think promoting unity between people and cultures in the world is a great thing,” says Robert Adams, a cross cultural training consultant and YouTuber (Chai & Coaching)  Over 150,000 Indian Americans live in the Houston metro area alone. Socio-cultural ties are a dominant way in which the community preserves its heritage while away from India. The cultural events preceding Modi’s address will showcase performances executed entirely by the Indian American community.

Indian Students, the ‘Bright Future’

Several Indian student associations in the US have partnered with the organizers, Texas India Forum, for the event. “The atmosphere in UT Dallas is pretty electric at this point. 6 to 8 buses will be leaving Sunday morning.” says Anirudh Ashok, a student at UT Dallas.

Regardless of political outcomes, this community summit is historic in the ways it will determine a new narrative that emerges about the world’s largest democracy on a platform offered by the world’s oldest democracy.

“Today’s youth is very aware of all the politics. My friends who were not involved in politics have started reading more and realize that Mr. Modi is doing great things for the country,” says Ashok.

Many individuals and groups have chosen to ignore or protest the event. But for those who will be a part of this momentous event, and for Trump and Modi, the show must go on, literally.

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