With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the political and the medical aspects of disinformation merged as the problem got elevated to a whole new level to become the first global infodemic. Fighting this infodemic is currently ranked very high on the list of priorities of the World Health Organization, with dangers ranging from promoting fake cures, rumors, and conspiracy theories to spreading xenophobia and panic. With this in mind, we studied how COVID-19 is discussed in Bulgarian social media in terms of factuality, harmfulness, propaganda, and framing. We found that most Bulgarian tweets contain verifiable factual claims, are factually true, are of potential public interest, are not harmful, and are too trivial to fact-check; moreover, zooming into harmful tweets, we found that they spread not only rumors but also panic. We further analyzed articles shared in Bulgarian partisan pro/con-COVID-19 Facebook groups and found that propaganda is more prevalent in skeptical articles, which use doubt, flag waving, and slogans to convey their message; in contrast, concerned ones appeal to emotions, fear, and authority; moreover, skeptical articles frame the issue as one of quality of life, policy, legality, economy, and politics, while concerned articles focus on health & safety. We release our manually and automatically analyzed datasets to enable further research.
While COVID-19 vaccines are finally becoming widely available, a second pandemic that revolves around the circulation of anti-vaxxer “fake news” may hinder efforts to recover from the first one. With this in mind, we performed an extensive analysis of Arabic and English tweets about COVID-19 vaccines, with focus on messages originating from Qatar. We found that Arabic tweets contain a lot of false information and rumors, while English tweets are mostly factual. However, English tweets are much more propagandistic than Arabic ones. In terms of propaganda techniques, about half of the Arabic tweets express doubt, and 1/5 use loaded language, while English tweets are abundant in loaded language, exaggeration, fear, name-calling, doubt, and flag-waving. Finally, in terms of framing, Arabic tweets adopt a health and safety perspective, while in English economic concerns dominate.
Opinion prediction is an emerging research area with diverse real-world applications, such as market research and situational awareness. We identify two lines of approaches to the problem of opinion prediction. One uses topic-based sentiment analysis with time-series modeling, while the other uses static embedding of text. The latter approaches seek user-specific solutions by generating user fingerprints. Such approaches are useful in predicting user’s reactions to unseen content. In this work, we propose a novel dynamic fingerprinting method that leverages contextual embedding of user’s comments conditioned on relevant user’s reading history. We integrate BERT variants with a recurrent neural network to generate predictions. The results show up to 13% improvement in micro F1-score compared to previous approaches. Experimental results show novel insights that were previously unknown such as better predictions for an increase in dynamic history length, the impact of the nature of the article on performance, thereby laying the foundation for further research.
Recent events, such as the 2016 US Presidential Campaign, Brexit and the COVID-19 “infodemic”, have brought into the spotlight the dangers of online disinformation. There has been a lot of research focusing on fact-checking and disinformation detection. However, little attention has been paid to the specific rhetorical and psychological techniques used to convey propaganda messages. Revealing the use of such techniques can help promote media literacy and critical thinking, and eventually contribute to limiting the impact of “fake news” and disinformation campaigns. Prta (Propaganda Persuasion Techniques Analyzer) allows users to explore the articles crawled on a regular basis by highlighting the spans in which propaganda techniques occur and to compare them on the basis of their use of propaganda techniques. The system further reports statistics about the use of such techniques, overall and over time, or according to filtering criteria specified by the user based on time interval, keywords, and/or political orientation of the media. Moreover, it allows users to analyze any text or URL through a dedicated interface or via an API. The system is available online: https://www.tanbih.org/prta.
We introduce Tanbih, a news aggregator with intelligent analysis tools to help readers understanding what’s behind a news story. Our system displays news grouped into events and generates media profiles that show the general factuality of reporting, the degree of propagandistic content, hyper-partisanship, leading political ideology, general frame of reporting, and stance with respect to various claims and topics of a news outlet. In addition, we automatically analyse each article to detect whether it is propagandistic and to determine its stance with respect to a number of controversial topics.
This paper presents QCRI’s Arabic-to-English live speech translation system. It features modern web technologies to capture live audio, and broadcasts Arabic transcriptions and English translations simultaneously. Our Kaldi-based ASR system uses the Time Delay Neural Network (TDNN) architecture, while our Machine Translation (MT) system uses both phrase-based and neural frameworks. Although our neural MT system is slower than the phrase-based system, it produces significantly better translations and is memory efficient. The demo is available at https://st.qcri.org/demos/livetranslation.
Sentiment classification becomes more and more important with the rapid growth of user generated content. However, sentiment classification task usually comes with two challenges: first, sentiment classification is highly domain-dependent and training sentiment classifier for every domain is inefficient and often impractical; second, since the quantity of labeled data is important for assessing the quality of classifier, it is hard to evaluate classifiers when labeled data is limited for certain domains. To address the challenges mentioned above, we focus on learning high-level features that are able to generalize across domains, so a global classifier can benefit with a simple combination of documents from multiple domains. In this paper, the proposed model incorporates both sentiment polarity and unlabeled data from multiple domains and learns new feature representations. Our model doesn’t require labels from every domain, which means the learned feature representation can be generalized for sentiment domain adaptation. In addition, the learned feature representation can be used as classifier since our model defines the meaning of feature value and arranges high-level features in a prefixed order, so it is not necessary to train another classifier on top of the new features. Empirical evaluations demonstrate our model outperforms baselines and yields competitive results to other state-of-the-art works on benchmark datasets.