Canadian broadcaster launches fake-news chat bot

Canadian public broadcaster's campaign against fake news Image copyright CBC/YouTube
Image caption CBC offers a quick guide to spotting fake stories

Canada's CBC public broadcaster has responded to concerns about fake news in the current parliamentary election campaign by launching a chat bot to assess the veracity of reports.

An international opinion poll has found that 90% of Canadians have fallen for fake news online. with many identifying Facebook as the most common source of misleading reports.

The looming polling day of 21 October has focused minds, and CBC says the whole fake-news issue "will, more than ever, play a role in this federal election".The chat bot aims to "equip voters with the right tools and help them spot and avoid sharing untrue reports", according to the broadcaster.

Chat bots are software that create a conversation by auditory or textual methods, and CBC is using Facebook's Messenger platform to answer any questions Canadians might have about whether to believe election news or not.

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They can launch the bot at the click of a button, and opt into a five-week course on spotting disinformation and misinformation - the terms CBC prefers to use rather than "fake news".

In a YouTube video explaining the phenomena, it defines disinformation as the "deliberate creation or sharing of false information to mislead people", and misinformation as the "act of sharing information without realising it's wrong".

The chat bot itself begins with basics about verifying news and businesses sites, before going on to the more advanced business of spotting "deepfakes, altered photos and articles that may look like they're from news sites — but aren't".

Image copyright CBC/YouTube
Image caption CBC is also running videos on YouTube to warn of disinformation

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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