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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

Indian national dies in ICE custody in Arizona

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Indian Man dies ICE

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Diya TV) — An Indian national died in Arizona near the California border while being held in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the second person in a month to die at that location.

ICE officials said 21 year old Simratpal Singh was found unresponsive and not breathing while he awaited transfer to an ICE facility. ICE said earlier that day, Singh posted bond on charges of assault and sexual assault.

The Wadhwani Institute, led by Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani, won a $2M Google grant for an AI project which aims to help farmers control crop pests.

In Washington DC, Gita Gopinath, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from Indian Ambassador Harsh Shringla.

And Facebook co-founder and Mark Zuckerberg’s former roommate Chris Hughes, in an op-ed, called for the breakup of the social network.

Zoom Founder & CEO Eric Yuan, among other prominent tech scions, flocked to TiECON over the weekend. We have full coverage including our exclusive one on ones with some of the prominent leaders in Silicon Valley.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Blasts near major Sufi shrine in Lahore kills 10, wounds many

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Sufi Shrine bomb

LAHORE, Pakistan (Diya TV) — Pakistani police say a bomb targeting their forces guarding a Sufi shrine in Lahore killed at least ten people, with many more wounded. Among the dead are civilians, police officers and a security guard. Hundreds of people were nearby to mark Ramadan at the time of the explosion. The Pakistani Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack.

After the New York Times released details how President Trump lost roughly $1 billion in the 1980s and 1990s, more than nearly any other American, Trump took to Twitter to defend his approach, saying his use of tax shelters was a “sport.”

As the world celebrates his 150th birth anniversary, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney expects Mahatma Gandhi to be honored this year posthumously with the Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest civilian award.

And global digital payment network Mastercard says they will invest $1 billion in India over the next 5 years, roughly one-third of which will be spent to set up a local payment processing center.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Colorado Muslim restaurateurs win $675K in discrimination suit

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Colorado Muslim restaurateurs

DENVER (Diya TV) — A Colorado court ruled in favor of father and son restaurateurs Zuned & Rashad Khan to the tune of $675,000 after a landlord refused to sublease a restaurant space to them because they are Muslim.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Indian Minister of Commerce Suresh Prabhu met in New Delhi to talk trade and commerce. Bilateral ties between the nations grew more than 12% from 2017 to 2018.

In Sacramento, ten names of officers killed in the line of duty were added to the California Peace Officers’ memorial, including Corporal Ronil Singh of the Newman Police Department.

And investing icon Warren Buffett said Gregory Able and Ajit Jain, who are both on the Berkshire Hathaway board of directors, would join him and business partner Charlie Munger on the stage to answer shareholder questions in the near future.

Jain is credited with being a driving force behind Berkshire Hathaway’s success in insurance.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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