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Lie Detector Tool Helps Keep Urban Legends Out of Your News Feed

We all have them: Those friends who can’t seem to tell an urban legend or unfounded rumour from truth. They also apparently don’t have access to a search engine, because about 99% of the time if they took three seconds to do a search, they would know what they were blindly sharing in a Chicken Little manner is a hoax. I’ve actually had friends tell me they’re glad they know me, because I will always post a link showing their posts are untrue so they don’t have to expend the effort. It’s sad, really. The trouble with sharing everything you see is you become the boy who cried wolf: If you actually do post something that’s legitimate, no one will pay any attention.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield are working on an app that can help those unable or unwilling to help themselves. It’s basically a lie detector tool that will analyze things posted on social media and determine if they are true or a lie. This would be particularly helpful in the case of missing persons, I would think. Easily 80% of the time, someone posts a missing person picture, it is weeks if not years out of date and the person in question has already been found one way or another. In addition to analyzing posts, the tool will look at accounts to see if they’ve been created purely to spread lies and rumors (for instance, “These 800 iPads were returned and now we can’t sell them, share this picture to be entered to win one”).

Unfortunately, the tool is years from becoming readily available. The project is slated to run for three years before they develop a fully customized tool and get it on the market for commercial use. But the part where I can see a light at the end of the tunnel through the darkness of “Please help find these young boys” (who were returned safely home four years ago and are now in high school), “Use these tips to prevent an attack” (that have all been debunked by police and self-defense experts), and “Share this picture and Facebook will donate money for this child’s operation” (there are too many things wrong with that for me to even start listing them) gives me hope for the future.

Because the thing is, when you share something that is patently untrue, you not only waste everyone’s time and effort, you could actually be causing real damage. If emergency responders are spending all their time fielding calls because someone saw on Facebook that they can call one city’s emergency services and an ambulance will pick up homeless folks in a tri-state area to provide them shelter, someone who is having a heart attack cannot get through to them.

Source: Ubergizmo

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