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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

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on diversifying TV station ownership

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV) —    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he’s aware the incentive auction nearly wiped out TV stations owned by women & minorities. How he’s addressing the issue, plus the on-going battle over net neutrality, robocalls & his evolution from staffer to Commissioner to Chair on an all-new The Public Interest with Ravi Kapur, Sunday at 9 am & 5pm exclusively on DiyaTV!

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Elon Musk says Tesla plans to be in India by 2020

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —   India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, just helped his brother Anil out of a major jam, despite their past differences. Anil’s Reliance Communications owed $77 million to Ericsson and he faced jail for non-payment. But in a statement, the company announced the debt was addressed, implying older brother Mukesh had taken care of the bill.

India’s second-richest man, Azim Premji, is making news of own by giving billions to charity in what is thought to be largest donation ever seen in India.

The tech tycoon has now allocated a total of $21 billion to the Azim Premji Foundation.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted he wants to bring their electric cars to India this year or by 2020. He has blamed tough policies for delaying the carmaker’s entry into India in the past. India is the world’s fourth largest automobile market.

Adding to the pacts they’ve struck over the last three years, India and the United States are close to finalizing a new deal to deepen defense industry collaboration.

And representatives from six social media platforms met with Indian election officials, holding discussions on ways to tackle fake news and authenticate political ads in advance of elections there next month.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announces 2020 Presidential run

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —   Days after two mosques in New Zealand were targeted in racially motivated shooting, New Zealand’s prime minister vowed to change gun laws within one week. 50 people died and 50 were wounded in the livestreamed attack by a 28-year-old Australian man, and self-proclaimed racist, who is being held on murder charges.

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand officially announced her campaign for the White House, making the rounds in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, the other Democratic presidential hopefuls made their way around the nation to meet with voters.

Iowa played host to Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke and Amy Klobuchar

Bernie Sanders hit the trail in Nevada.

And Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard made the rounds in the Bay Area.

Instagram comedian Jess Hilarious caused a furor online after posting a set of racially-insensitive videos saying four Sikhs on her flight made her feel “threatened.”

Those Sikh passengers were removed from the aircraft for reasons that are still unknown.

And Vancouver businessman David Sidoo pleaded not guilty to felony fraud charges in a U.S. federal court for allegedly paying $200,000 to have someone help his sons pass the SAT, one of whom attended U.C. Berkeley. He was released on $1.5 million bond.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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