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African startup creates a fact-checker based on Artificial Intelligence

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A startup from Angola has created a fact-checker based on Artificial Intelligence. Known as Nuxo, the solution uses a machine learning algorithm that allows quick and accurate identification of fake news.

The solution was developed by a team of young Angolans, based in Luanda, with a proven track record in fighting fake news, since the launch of the news aggregator Manifexto, in which this team has been involved, since 2017.

The proliferation of fake news is a problem that has been worsening and was recognized and is being fought by international organizations, as is the case of the United Nations, which has active combat programs against the global negative impacts, caused by what is already called the “epidemic of misinformation” or “Infodemic”.

Fact-checking is a time-consuming activity, since it requires a lot of research and investigation for each news article, therefore Manifexto’s team decided to move from its “traditional” approach of fact checking news to an automated one, and in the process offer a simple tool to combat the dissemination of fake news to the world.

Nuxo is short for Manucho, a common household name in Angola, usually given to the eldest son, the one who by nature is the most responsible, reliable, conciliator, protector, and always available to his brothers, in any situation. Nuxo embodies the same values, presenting itself as “someone” in whom we can trust and rely, so that, at any moment, he can tell us whether a piece of information is true or false. The technology behind Nuxo enables its availability to anyone, 24/7, every day of the year, from anywhere in the world.

“Nuxo was initially trained with a database of over 10,000 news articles, all of which pre-identified as true or false. After analyzing all of them, the algorithm identified a pattern, something that humans cannot do. With this, an analysis base is created, and from then on, each news article that is processed and analyzed has its result incorporated into the algorithm, thus allowing the machine to learn. This means that the more news being analyzed by Nuxo, the more efficient, accurate and necessary it becomes”, explains Zedilson de Almeida, general manager of Simpluz Tecnologias, the company that owns Manifexto.

One of the most surprising features of Nuxo is its inclusiveness, since it can analyze news in virtually any language. The solution can be used by anyone in the world. However, Nuxo does not only offer linguistic inclusion. It goes even further, ensuring digital inclusion, since it is available on Facebook and can be used, without spending credits, by using Facebook Zero, an initiative launched by the social network in collaboration with mobile Internet providers, through which providers offer zero rating (guarantee a zero rate and no data charges) to access Facebook via cell phones, offering a text-only version of its mobile site.

A link to a news article is the only thing Nuxo needs. You send it a link and, in the blink of an eye, Nuxo identifies if it is fake news. This means that the more than 15 million mobile phones users in Angola, can use it solution without having to pay a penny for Internet. Another 36 countries offer this possibility, which corresponds to an astronomical number of individuals that, potentially, can use the Angolan solution, Nuxo, for free.

“Because of the work we do with Manifexto, in the fight against fake news, we receive several requests to identify and inform on the veracity of specific news articles. The fact-checking process is very time-consuming and demands people to research and investigate each of the requests. Because of this and knowing that many entities go through the same difficulties, we decided to use technology to facilitate the process, and empower the population in the process”, explains Zedilson de Almeida.

Zedilson de Almeida adds that Nuxo “will not solve the problem of fake news. The fight is down to the individual. People need to be informed about the dangers of fake news and learn the dos and don’ts to actively contribute to the reduction of the proliferation of fake news. Nuxo is only a tool that will help them in the fact-checking process”. Each one of us must contribute to the valorization of the truth of the facts, and without this, it will be exceedingly difficult to defeat the Infodemic and its many perverse effects.

Being aware of the reservations that millions of people have about Facebook and privacy, the startup informs that Nuxo is not hosted on Facebook. The chatbot (software that simulates a human being in conversation with people) on Facebook is just a bridge that allows its nearly 7 billion users to reach Nuxo, which is hosted on a server external to Facebook.

The team is working to launch Nuxo on other platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal. And for those using a computer, browser extensions are also being developed for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.

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