Social media is, as we all know, a bottomless pit of lies, largely thanks to Jimmy Kimmel. It’s practically designed to cater to all the flaws in our neurology and our personalities to sucker us into believing something that’s just credible enough to be fun until the rug is cruelly jerked out from under us. And apparently the EU is sick of it, because they’re paying for a “social media lie detector” of sorts.
Called Pheme, the essential idea is that it automates the whole “being incredulous” and “checking the source” things we as human beings have apparently surrendered in the twenty-first century. And it’s actually fairly thorough, according to CNET:
Pheme will, for example, gauge the authority of sources such as news outlets, individual journalists, alleged experts, potential eyewitnesses, and automated bots. It will take into account the histories of social-media accounts to help spot those that have spread false rumors. And it will search for sources that corroborate or deny a given piece of information and plot how conversations about the topic evolve on social networks.
A “social media lie detector” like this actually a fairly useful idea. If you’re wondering what the EU gets out of it, really, look no further than why House Of Cards is allegedly popular in China. Social media is a great way for less-than-ethical states to spread misinformation and outright lies; spending some time on, say, non-American social media networks can be both enlightening and more than a little depressing in this regard. Misinformation and propaganda are always problems, and now they spread much more quickly.
Of course, one could also point out that owning a tool that supposedly dispassionately sorts truth from fiction would, in of itself, be a useful way for less-than-ethical states to shut down truths they may not want spread. But really, when was the last time the European Union tried to use control of the Internet to duck actually solving a problem?