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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey vows to curb fake news ahead of 2019 elections in India

Admitting that fighting fake news is no easy task, Twitter Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey on Monday said the social network is taking “multi-variable” steps, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), to curb the spread of misleading information ahead of 2019 general elections in India.

Addressing a town-hall meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-Delhi), Dorsey said fake news is a way too big category.

“The real problem is not misinformation per se as jokes can also be categorised as misinformation. But misinformation that is spread with the intent to mislead people is a real problem,” stressed the Twitter CEO who is in India for a week-long maiden visit.

Dorsey, who got a rousing reception at IIT-Delhi with the students cheering the young entrepreneur with screams, likened solving the problem of misleading information to that of addressing a security issue or building a lock.

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“No one can build a perfect lock, but we need to stay ahead of our attackers. AI could probably help,” Dorsey told the audience.

Conversations, Dorsey said, can help solve a lot of problems and encouraged the youth to ask tough questions to their leaders.

“You should ask your leaders what they are doing about solving global problems like climate change or what they are doing about having universal basic income,” he told the audience.

Responding to a question on “edit button” on Twitter, he said it has been under consideration for quite some time now, but they are yet to find a suitable way to roll out the feature for its over 326 million active users. The “edit button” would eventually allow people to tweak the conversation.

Responding to a question on fears of AI displacing jobs, Dorsey said it was not something waiting to happen.

“AI is already displacing jobs. Programming will be done by AI and Machine Learning,” he said, adding that the important point for people is to consider what decisions people want algorithms to take and what decisions they want to take for themselves.

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Twitter launches a campaign to boost youth engagement for 2019 polls

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Twitter India also launched a new initiative titled #PowerOf18 at the event, aimed at encouraging youth to contribute in public debates and participate in civic engagement for the upcoming election season.

#PowerOf18 will encourage the youth to become change makers and “join the most important public conversation for the country — the state and national elections,” said Maya Hari, Vice-President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Twitter.

The #PowerOf18 will serve as a resource for young Indians to find more information about the elections, support social causes they are passionate about and join the public conversation.

In a nationwide survey conducted with 3,622 youth respondents from India, Twitter found an overwhelming 94 per cent of respondents indicating that they would vote in the upcoming elections.

The October study also pointed to the rising importance of social media for information consumption.

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Jack Dorsey vows to curb fake news ahead of 2019 elections in India
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter | Photo by IANS

Nearly 60 per cent of youth surveyed would turn to social media to find out what’s happening in India and around the world, a percentage higher than all other mediums including newspapers, the findings showed.

Twitter said it seeks to work with more like-minded partners and personalities to create awareness of the importance of voting.

Five Indian states — Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram — are currently facing polls.

The electorate in Chhattisgarh on Monday exercised their franchise in the first phase of the two-phase Assembly polls in the state. The results from all five states will be declared on December 11.

Earlier in the day, the Twitter CEO met Congress President Rahul Gandhi and discussed various steps the social network was taking to curb the spread of fake news and boost a healthy conversation on its platform.

Dorsey also met Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama over the past weekend.

Twitter, along with other social media platforms including Facebook came under the intense scrutiny of policymakers in the US for their failure to stop the spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts on their platforms during the 2016 Presidential election.

The micro-blogging site since then has stepped up its efforts to curb the spread of divisive messages and fake news on its platform.

To further protect the integrity of elections, Twitter recently announced that it would now delete fake accounts engaged in a variety of emergent, malicious behaviours.

However, according to a Knight Foundation study released in October, more than 80 per cent of the Twitter accounts linked to the spread of misinformation during the 2016 US election is still active.

Also read: Facebook and Twitter are busy fighting fake news on Election day in USA

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