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AP set for artificial intelligence breakthrough in verifying user-generated video

In an age when authoritarian leaders pour resources into state-funded media and when technology has given new life to political propaganda and fakery, the AP continues reporting from 254 cities around the world and maintains a reputation for being free of bias.

The AP’s role in fortifying public faith in news is especially vital in the area of user-generated mobile phone video, which so often provides the most visceral – and potentially controversial – elements of the modern breaking news report.

Johnson reveals that the AP is set to introduce to its newsroom a new cloud-based tool that uses artificial intelligence to instantly verify – or expose as fake – the thousands of UGC videos examined by AP journalists every week.

“It does those basic things like making sure things match up… that a street sign would [actually] be in that place.” The value of UGC was highlighted during the making of ‘The Missing’, an extraordinary AP project that has logged 61,135 migrants who have died or disappeared since 2014, simply in the course of travelling from one place to another.

So, we talked to [Dennis] and interviewed him and the UGC added something to our story which was already well-reported and compelling.” Being able to apply AP Verify’s AI to UGC clips can speed up the reporting process by rescuing journalists from sometimes overwhelming amounts of UGC, Johnson believes.

She recently helped oversee the agency’s coverage of the US midterm elections and wants to bring AP’s latest expertise in detecting political misinformation to its coverage of the European elections in May. AP last month investigated the impact of fake news on Nigeria’s elections and how false stories had circulated to the degree that voters were told that President Muhammad Buhari had died and been replaced by a Sudanese body double.

We have to describe why the person wouldn’t speak – that they could potentially lose their job or that there was some danger to them.” In her role overseeing AP staff in more than 60 European and African cities, she wants to increase the amount of transparency in reporting.

It also can use image recognition technology such as signs and text to pull out important pieces of information from a video to help us understand whether the video is accurate.” With the growing potential for ‘deep fake’ videos (combining artificial intelligence with actual shots of a person to create something bogus), Johnson admits it is “getting easier for manipulated content to look more real”.

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