A team of college students is getting attention from internet companies and Congress after developing a browser extension that alerts users to fake and biased news stories and helps guide them to more balanced coverage, Washington Post reports.
The plug-in, “Open Mind ,” was developed earlier this month during a 36-hour problem-solving competition known as a hackathon at Yale University.
The winning team was comprised of four students: Michael Lopez-Brau and Stefan Uddenberg, both doctoral students in Yale’s psychology department; Alex Cui, an undergraduate who studies machine learning at the California Institute of Technology; and Jeff An, who studies computer science at the University of Waterloo and business at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario.
That team competed against others to win a challenge from Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism, which asked students to find a way to counter fake news.
The team’s software, designed as an extension for Google’s Chrome browser, will display a warning screen when someone enters a site known to disseminate fake news. It also will alert a reader if a story shared on social media is fake or biased.
But it does much more than just warn.
The plug-in uses existing sentiment analysis technology to analyze any story that might appear in a newsfeed, identifying the major players and any political slant. It then can suggest to the reader other stories on the same topic that have an alternate viewpoint.