Fake News Horror Show!

Thursday, June 7 (4:30-9PM) - Friday, June 8, 2018 (8AM-4PM)
NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Media & Games Network
2 Metrotech Center, Brooklyn NY, 11201

New technologies are making it possible to generate new and more insidious forms of propaganda and misinformation. The only way to address the problem is to understand what is possible. Fake News Horror Show! convened researchers, digital media experts and technologists, and those concerned with the political and social implications of computational propaganda, to imagine the worst. The event was a science fair of terrifying propaganda tools—some real and some imagined, but all based on plausible technologies.

Listen: Clint Watts’ keynote talk


Thursday, June 7th

4:00PM. Demos + Networking

5:00PM. The History of Fake News. Led by Matt Jones, James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization, where his scholarship focuses on the history of science, technology, computing, and philosophy. He was recently a fellow at Data & Society.

5:30PM. Opening Talk. Led by JD Maddox, consultant to the US State Department, a counterterrorism expert with specialization in emerging technology applications.

6:00PM. A Nightmare for Democracy. Led by David Carroll, faculty member and Director of the MFA Design and Technology program at The New School, whose work on the Cambridge Analytica scandal made national headlines. 

6:30PM. The Fake News Horror Show! Panel Discussion.

With Speakers:

  • Siva Vaidhyanathan, Robertson Professor of Modern Media Studies at the University of Virginia and author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

  • Melissa Ryan, Media Matters Visiting Fellow, Founder of the Factual Democracy Project and Editor of the Ctrl Alt-Right Delete newsletter

  • Gentry Lane, CEO, Societas Analytics

  • Brett Horvath, Co-Founder & Head of Strategy, Scout.AI

  • Justin Hendrix, Executive Director, NYC Media Lab

7:45PM. Demo Pitch Introductions! Learn about the demos participating the the event through open mic pitches. 

8:00PM-9:00PM. Demos + Networking Reception. 

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Friday, June 8th

8:00AM: Registration

8:30AM: Opening Presentation. Led by Renee DiResta, Director of Research at New Knowledge, and Head of Policy at nonprofit Data for Democracy.

9:00AM-11:00AM: Morning Session: Demos + Workshops. Workshops led by experts from industry and research. The morning session will include four workshop sessions on topics ranging from how ISIS and other extremist groups are weaponizing social media to audio deepfakes. With leaders: Eric Feinberg, GIPEC; David Polinchock, Experiential Advertising Group; Andrew Losowsky, Mozilla; James Grimmelmann, Cornell Tech; Scott Reitherman, Creative Technologist.

11:00AM: Keynote Speaker: Clint Watts, Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News.

12:00PM: Lunch.

12:30PM: Introductory Talk: Angelo Carusone, Media Matters. 

Angelo Carusone, President of Media Matters, offers a new framework for understanding and stopping the fake news problem, recognizing it for the cheating it is and drawing on past examples of deceit that were effectively stomped out by advocates.

12:45PM: Now What? What do we do to rein in the Fake News Horror Show!, hosted by Media Matters: The future may portend a fake news horror show, but in this panel conference participants have the opportunity to hear what they can do to make sure we don’t experience the worst case scenario. Advocates across sectors and movements share their experiences combatting weaponized lies and hate online and why advocacy in this landscape matters.

Speakers include:

  • Melissa Ryan, Media Matters Visiting Fellow and Editor of Ctrl Alt-Right Delete

  • Erin Shields, National Field Organizer, Internet Rights, Center for Media Justice

  • Madihha Ahussain, Special Counsel for Anti-Muslim Bigotry, Muslim Advocates.

  • Roger McNamee, Founder, Elevation Partners

  • Greg Greene, Special Projects Manager, Planned Parenthood Action Fund

1:30-3:30PM. Afternoon Session: Demos + Workshops: Afternoon workshops include topics such as an exploration of the responsibility of marketers to solve online toxicity & misinformation and detecting fake videos. With leaders: Siwei Lyu (University at Albany) & Vishal Misra (Columbia University); Eric Seufert, N3TWORK; Ben Moskowitz & Bobby Richter; and Megan Holmgren, Storyful. 

4:00PM. Close

Participating Demos

Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Suspiria comprises of three screens displaying news from different sources. The news is channeled from video streams, facebook timelines, and twitter feeds. The audience is invited to guess which screen holds fake news and vote on their phones. Upon voting, it is revealed to them that all the three sources of news are real and curated, and the piece itself is fake. The idea is to see how users perceive news, and how suspicion or skepticism can sometimes stray viewers away from information. Consequently, we seek to analyze the votes for bias, for or against certain sources of news."

Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

The #reactionaryGroup is a set of four Twitter bot characters users can control. Each character represents an opposing political personality that exists within social media platforms: a liberal, a conservative, a conspiracy theorist, and a member of the alt-right. Their tweets are always linked to one another, in the form of an argument. They are not automated but rely on crowdsourcing to foster a discussion on the online platforms we use and the news sources we read. My piece gives the user agency to spread fake news by tweeting for these personalities, which can cause heated chain reaction arguments. 

Fake news & radio - "War of the Worlds" panic on turbo
Affiliation: Media Matters for America

The demo would show how radio stations around the country have become a conduit for fake news. I would show how radio stations already regularly report articles with a satire label as real, along with hoaxes from internet trolls and fake news websites during breaking news situations. I aim to present how susceptible radio stations are to the worst case scenario of where radio stations are falling for deepfakes and airing fake audio as real, particularly related to elections, constantly, without researching it first and rarely issuing a correction.

Real World News
Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Real World News, a news aggregator site, invites users to choose which media source they want to read. As soon as they make a selection, a camera captures their face, making a cash register sound and adding it to another screen, as a way to symbolize the ad economy these sites profit from.

Fear Uncertainty and Doubt
Affiliation: NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Integrated Digital Media (IDM)

Unethical facial recognition software in the context of targeted marketing and microaggression, in a horrific selfie booth. This booth will try to get you to register an emotion (fear, anger, happiness, disgust, etc.) in response to visual prompts and obnoxious verbal cues (e.g. 'smile, honey').

Captive Audience
Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Captive Audience was inspired by President Trump and the audiences that he paid for; if he can have meaningless applause, so can you with Captive Audience. 

We The People
Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), Research Residency 

We The People is a piece that shows the narrative from both sides - democratic and republican. It shows that there are varied views and two dominant ones. With regard to fake news, what one side considers true, the other rejects and vice versa. What one side loathes, the other embraces. There are two channels to the video. One side represents democrats and the other, republicans. The song We the People by A Tribe Called Quest plays in the background. Each video circles through clips of people (representative of their political views) saying the lyrics. The user of the installation is able experience both narratives by using a slider that navigates between videos.

Four Corners
Affiliation: International Center of Photography and the Open Lab at Newcastle University

The Four Corners Project is a way to better contextualize a photograph, and thereby to increase the credibility of the photograph and the authorship of the photographer. A template is provided for the photographer (or their editor or agent) to add a specific kind of contextualizing information to each of the four corners of the image, as text, sound, video, or another medium. This contextualization is intended to remain with the photograph as it is re-published digitally, adding to the credibility of the image in an era in which the veracity of media is being constantly challenged. Its code is open source.

Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Wikibabel examines contemporary epistemology through an alternate version of Wikipedia. The site, aesthetically and functionally similar to Wikipedia, is created using a machine learning program (specifically, long short term memory) that uses a data dump of Wikipedia as the training corpus and then generates new articles based on the linguistic and structural style of the original entries. The project employs parody and satirical critique to explore how Wikipedia, as a volunteer-edited site representing all of human knowledge, embodies a shift in epistemology brought about by the social web and became an unwitting influence on the fake news moment.

Vidrovr (startup)    
Vidrovr platform is a white label search solution that companies can launch to allow users and their own editors to seamlessly search through their real-time and large video archives.

A Real-Time Labor Calculating Machine For Babies
Affiliation: Parsons School of Design 

A Real-Time Labor Calculating Machine conceives a plausible scenario in which babies and their parents are able to get financial return from all the online data of the babies that are contributed to social media platforms, no matter if the data are from the photos posted by babies’ parents, or from babies’ each scrolling and clicking, or the facial expression data that are used to profile the babies. The web browser extension and mobile apps can be installed on computers and mobile phones to monitor and capture personal data.

Fallacy Bingo
Affiliation: CoLab Futures

Fallacies shut down arguments preemptively and distract from core issues. Consequently, they build division, and create fragmenting. The goal of Fallacy Bingo is to provide tools to get past the bullshit. Fallacies are everywhere; they are invisible if they match our beliefs, BUT they should be probed for opportunities for dialogue in "grey areas".  Players go through a practice round to become familiar with game taxonomy. After the practice round, the game display no longer reveals the fallacy name, or associated symbol. Players are encouraged to have conversations using the “cheat sheet” to identify which fallacy is the match.

Fake Your News
Affiliation: NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Integrated Digital Media (IDM)

A website that allows the user to turn snippets of news from The New York Times into a Mad Libs game. The link is to my demo as it is now. It's still being debugged and will have added features (such as the user's ability to pick the type of news they want to play with), but I wanted to send along a link to the demo as it is now to give an idea. I applied a few months ago before I had a demo to send.

NewsCheck University Pilot Program
NewsCheck- patent-pending platform combines human (individual and crowd) and machine (AI/ML/NLP/Distributed ledger) content analysis processes to score news (NewsCheck Trust Index-) based on classic Journalist standards. The NewsCheck University Pilot Program will be launching in the 2018 Fall semester in Journalism and Data Science Schools across the country. The goal is to provide remote access to our digital platform to Journalism and Data Science students across the country, to improve students media and technology literacy by providing experiential learning using technology to analyze and identify fake news and misinformation.

Affiliation: School of Visual Arts, Interaction Design

projectWATT is a new kind of publication to promote nuanced perspectives on a wide variety of issues.  Writers are invited to publish if they post on the Change My View subreddit (reddit.com/r/changemyview).  If the post has enough activity, they are sent an invite link to convert their discussion into a projectWATT article so their perspective can be shared beyond the subreddit. projectWATT is an effort to expose people to the variety of perspectives that are out there, so that they can more easily understand how others (particularly those they disagree with) interpret current events.

Affiliation: NYU Game Center

Mediazoic is a suite of digital minigames set in a world in which dinosaurs have retaken the earth. As one of the few humans remaining, and therefore one of the few beings with hands, the player takes on the role of a new employee at DDB, a TV network serving the T-Rex, Stegosaurus, and Pterodactyl demographics. Their job is to censor, moderate, and manipulate live video to appease the audience - from kids' shows to news broadcasts and music videos. Mediazoic is a humorous game that hints at the truth that the media we consume passes through many a watchful eye.

reallyread.it (startup)   
Thanks to the advent of social media and all-encompassing advertising industry, the average amount of time spent “reading” an article is just a few seconds.  In other words, nobody *reads* on the internet. Reading, *real* reading, makes you smarter, helps you spot bad information, and is fun.    

Uso 15
Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Uso 15 is an application that posts 15 news with images from the internet. 
Uso means fake in Japanese. Uso is using LSTM and Markov chain to generate information.

State of the Medium
Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

SOTM is an AR experience that explores the evolution of news and media consumption over the last 50 years and next 50 years, focusing on the annual State of the Union Address.

Underneath Reality
Affiliation: NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Integrated Digital Media (IDM)

Underneath Reality is an artistic VR experience that generates strong emotions and feelings by contrasting the reality, the ideal and a propose solution for the survival of humanity in planet earth.

Unreadable News
Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Fake and inaccurate news is misleading people, and there's no way to avoid it. The project is based on projection mapping and pupil/facial detection. When a user try to read a specific news on our newspaper, there will be special effects disturbing the user based on the content of the news, such as: text fade away/wiggle/disturbing info/bias info. User will not be able to finish reading the news. But once they look at other places, the news will back to normal with no special effect. The message we try to deliver is about how disturbing factors can change the ability or judgement for a person. Sometimes people can only hear one side of a story or biased by many external factors. 

Nara - Deepfakes for audio 
Cloning voices to create the first deepfakes for audio. The demo will play cloned voices during the event.

Fake Me Out 
Affiliation: Teachers College, Columbia University
Fake Me Out is a tool specifically designed for readers to build a path of skepticism and promote critical thinking skills. Fake Me Out encourages users to take a step back from the text, video, or any information presented and analyze the information carefully. The ultimate goal is for users to become pragmatic, critical thinkers. The learning activity within the application is supported by literature and theoretical frameworks.

Veracity.ai (startup)
Junk News Dataset and Analysis. The demo will show a data set of over 1.5M pieces of junk news content from over 1500 known junk news domains, along with a metadata analysis that shows that can successfully classify junk news using a neural network with almost 99% accuracy using meta-data alone. Veracity has opened up the dataset to the research community to enable more analysis and are eager to share our data and results.

Affiliation: The King's College.

VettNews is a ratings agency that makes citizens more media savvy and news organizations more transparent. Journalism professors and news experts built a database of 26,000 + news organizations and have used a methodology around standards and ethics to rank the organizations, providing a valuable service to the public. We are building tools to surface the ratings and make news ethics more visible to the public. The horror show is that some normally reputable news organizations don't fare so well in our test. The good news is that these organizations can easily improve their transparency.

The false prophet
Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Since fake news is so popular, can’t it be turned around and used as a truth spreading instance? The false prophet is a twitter bot that tweets gifs of famous celebrities quoting the not very famous nor very celebrated greatest quotes of our times. For example, you can see Miley Cirus quoting Zygmunt Bauman's quote “For intellectual authority, the appropriate version of Descartes 's cogito would be today: I am talked about, therefore I am" or, Donald Trump quoting Jean Baudrillard's quote "the real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is already reproduced, the hyper-real".

Contrapasso VR
Affiliation: NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Integrated Digital Media (IDM)

Contrapasso VR is a phenomenological journey into the psyche of a person who is trying to get over the hold that mass media has on us. The Virtual Reality experience explores issues of self-perception and deification of media artifacts and how our experiences are contextualized through them.

How to Design for Addiction
Affiliation: NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Integrated Digital Media (IDM)

The demo explores what makes an app or web-services addictive, in order to illuminate bad design practices used by companies like Google and Facebook to raise engagement. It is currently in the process of building a database of measurements for some of the most popular US websites and have rated them based on their propensity towards addiction. In the long term, it hopes to become a tool that will allow users to test the addiction rating of a service before they sign up.

Talking points.
Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Talking points is an interactive media installation that exposes hidden agendas, media bias, subjective coverage and the "talking point bubble" in broadcast media. The project focuses on how talking points are pushed and homogenized across networks, forcing ideas and beliefs to the minds of audiences through repetitive reciting of promoted narratives.

Discovering Fake News
Affiliation: NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science

The project aims to build a comprehensive corpus to enable the analysis and better understanding of fake news. It will demonstrate the Web crawling and technology we have developed to discover sites that publish fake news and allow participants to interactively explore the corpus.

Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

All the mosaic pixels as a whole paint the landscape of digital surveillance state, which is a blurred image of depersonalization.

Metron Busker
Affiliation: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Metron Busker is a networked toolkit and web application for new media street performance — a performance about the burden and of living in the tech-driven age and how it shapes us. Technically, It remixes web scraping digital content with real-time audiences' inputs and turns the public space into an overwhelming, noisy and repetitive sound space through screens, speakers and audiences' smartphones. The metal, black frame backpack with electronics and fast forward digital content serves as a metaphor of burden, connecting the stress of living in a tech-driven age with the physical feeling of carrying a heavy load.

Affiliation: Data for Democracy 

AreYouFakeNews is a service for identifying bias in journalism, powered by neural networks trained to recognize 17 different types of bias in hundreds of thousands of news articles. Users submit a news site URL of their choice, and an army of bots downloads and analyzes the site's articles, reporting back with bias scores for a number of factors including: accuracy, politics, hate conspiracy, and fake news. The goal is to empower individuals by providing context for the media they are consuming. 

Trump Junk
Affiliation: Independent Artist, via School for Poetic Computation

When one goes on a news website, this program downloads all images from any recent news articles mentioning Trump and if they have faces, averages their visual features out in an all image. Leaving them all on the computer as collected voyeuristic junk. This is response to irrelevant info about Trump(such as his junk food eating habits) filling newsfeeds while obscuring consequences of his policies (like whether or not a judge blocked his transgender military ban). The demo represents mental clutter as taking up a finite digital resource.