Let's hack news manipulation!

TU Darmstadt's Computer Science lab wins Propaganda Identification Hackathon

2019/01/31 by

Propaganda is the spreading of information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view and has been used as a weapon to influence people for centuries. History has taught us what propaganda can cause and thus, an early identification of such texts is crucial to start fighting the manipulation spread in news. This was the central motivation of the "Hack the News” Datathon held by the Data Science Society .

The UKP lab won the international “Hack the News Datathon”. Image: Data Science Society

Computer scientists of the UKP Lab under Professor Iryna Gurevych participated in the Datathon, which took place from January 21st to January 29th. The goal was to automatically identify propaganda in news articles with the help of Artificial Intelligence. The Datathon took place online and offline and in total, 40 teams with members from over 53 different countries participated in the Hackathon.

The tasks were split up into three levels of difficulty:

1. Identification of propaganda newspapers in general

2. Identification of sentences which include propaganda

3. Identification of sentence parts that include one of 18 propaganda classes (e.g. “Bandwagon”, “Reductio ad hitlerum”, “Whataboutism”, “Slogans”, etc.)

Not only did the researchers from the UKP lab win the most difficult challenge by a large margin, but they also made 1st place overall due to their thorough explanation and exhaustive experimentations. The prize money included 1000 EUR cash and 3500 EUR worth of compute power and workshops.