‘Is the content I look at authentic, meaning it represents what it claims to be or (re)present?’
Answering this question and assessing the veracity of content is at the core of journalistic fact-checking. However, answering this question can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Mis- and disinformation – even though not new phenomena – circulate on the internet at high speed. Recent advances of (generative) AI models have further facilitated the creation of false and misleading content, making it easy for almost anyone without specialist skills to create and distribute information in any form or format (e.g. text, images, video).
In the scope of several research projects and commercial undertakings the world over, researchers aim to develop tools that support journalists and fact-checkers in their verification tasks. One such tool is the Database of Known Fakes (DBKF), which is being developed by ontotext, a company that specialises in semantic technology and knowledge graph solutions.
The DBKF came to life within the Horizon 2020 funded WeVerify project. Its search functionalities have been integrated in the award-winning InVID-WeVerify plugin. The DBKF is now further enhanced under our Horizon Europe Research & Innovation Action project vera.ai (running from 2022 - 2025).
The primary aim of the Database of Known Fakes is to speed up the verification workflow of professionals such as fact-checkers, journalists, OSINT investigators, and human rights defenders, thus promoting efficiency and accuracy of the fact-checking process as well as facilitating the detection of ‘zombie’ narratives.
The DBKF allows users to easily double-check whether a claim, image or video has already been debunked by trusted fact-checkers (IFCN Code of Practice signatories), including by whom, when and how this was done.
Leveraging text analysis, visual similarity and semantic technologies, DBKF provides powerful search functionalities (beyond a keyword search) and enables insights into disinformation campaigns.
As the database is publicly available, it can also serve the needs of a wider range of stakeholders like researchers interested in the spreading of misinformation, or critically-thinking citizens keen to establish the veracity of information they are confronted with, often on a daily basis.
Although the main focus is placed on debunking sources that are located in the European Union, the DBKF also strives to cover fact-checking content across the globe (e.g., North America, Africa, Asia) to ensure a diversity of contexts and perspectives.
How exactly the DBKF works and what it offers is showcased in greater details in this video on the vera.ai YouTube channel.
Author: Anna Schild (DW), ontotext
Editor: Jochen Spangenberg