The use of data analytics will be vital in stopping the spread of fake news and fraud, an expert in the field has said.
However, IBM analytics architect Jason Burns warned the spread of fake news, election interference by rogue agents, and cybercrime, was growing exponentially.
He was speaking after the monthly Cork Chamber business breakfast on analysing big data.
Data analytics involves examining data to find patterns, using algorithms and other tools to gain further understanding and insights in business, science and other areas.
Mr Burns said: “There are a lot of areas data analytics can help. It’s an impossible task for someone at a manual level — instead, you take the knowledge gained from such people and build it into the data-analytics model. There is no other way to do it.”
He said the massive volume of misinformation meant only automation and data analytical tools could disseminate it.
“You need automation just to be able to process it, to be able to work out where the information is coming from, and to segment the people disseminating that.
“That is just one aspect — who is spreading this information, what is the origination of it and how do we stop the proliferation of it,” he said.
Mr Burns said there would be ethical conundrums for data analysts to face, as well as logistical issues.
“Building up those models can take a long, long time. It’s very much like fraud analysis, but applying it on a massive scale.
“At the same time, we cannot stop people expressing themselves freely. While it may be fake to you, it’s not to some. How do we agree what is fake?”
He said it was encouraging that the likes of Facebook were now taking the threat very seriously.
“Facebook, Twitter — the amount of posts and tweets per day is growing exponentially. Facebook has set up giant teams to combat election interference by rogue nations.
“But it is all about setting up the teams to build the models, and informing those models of what is going on. You see it with it with tax authorities like Revenue, trying to build analysis models of who is likely to defraud,” he said.
Other speakers at the monthly breakfast included AIB business performance and analytics team head, Yvonne Holmes.
She said that the role of analytics in business has been at the forefront in recent years in driving business decisions.
The event was partnered by the Chartered Accountancy Cork Society, with the Irish Examiner as media partner.