In Era of Fake News, ‘Dataminr’ Provides Breaking News Alerts In Real-Time

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Twenty years ago, the media landscape was changed forever. The general public cared less about periodic news coverage, and more about 24/7 access to real-time information. The murder trial of O.J. Simpson changed how we received and accessed information, across the world.

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The media cautioned moving against the cultural norm. Court TV and CNN made a daring decision to provide continuous, non-stop coverage of the Simpson trial. It revolutionized the meaning of information accessibility because it had never been done before.

The public was no longer concerned with missing their favorite TV recordings. A sports athlete, celebrity and public figure on trial for murder? The world of social media began to feed a national hunger of obtaining as much information as possible.

The Shadow Behind Social Media Today
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Real-Time With “Sully”

If we learned anything from the Simpson trial, it’s that the lineage of cultural phenomena has created a never-ending stream of information.

Go back to January 15, 2009, a time where every news source, including social media was upside down. The tragic demise of the “Sully” flight had the world posting to their social media accounts, images and opinions, in real-time. Representing one of the most pivotal events in our history of social media post- O.J., it was the first time  a major national news event was unfolding in real-time.

The Phenomena of ‘Fake News’

Over the past year, the general public has come across ‘fake news.’ Contrary to public belief, this isn’t anything new. Originating around the 17th century, it has taken many shapes.

  • News satire
  • News parody
  • State propaganda
  • Morphed photos and/or videos
  • Advertising and/or public relation manipulation
  • News fabrication

The 2016 U.S. presidential election demonstrated how the phenomena had taken on a new form in the 21st century.

Through its experience off Wall Street, Dataminr knows what it’s doing. Ed Oliver, the Vice-President of Financial Sales for Dataminr, told me that it spent nine years analyzing social media data.

Scraping Up Social Media and Serving Up Meaningful Portions
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Interviewed by Nasdaq last year, Dataminr partnered with Twitter, utilizing its platform to rummage through and filter out the junk. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is attributed to the explosion of data in the 21st century. The billions of Google searches have allows AI technology to advance at an incredible pace.

“We’ve used AI machinery technology to effectively scour publicly available sources…connected to events happening in real-time,” explained Oliver. “By pulling this information out of unstructured data and distilling it into specific alerts, we are able to deliver real-time information to our clients.”

This type of data harvesting allows individuals to sift through loads of irrelevant information. Think about how much information is lost among the thousand of posts. Analyzing such complicated information allows for the company to provide alerts, often times ahead of news or a 911 call.

Breaking Information Down Into Verticals

Think back to 2013, during former President, Barack Obama’s second-term inauguration. At the time, Dataminr’s service was used to scan for potential threats, including the political unrest in Brazil and the Paris terror attacks.

Illustrated in one of Twitter’s transparency reports, the U.S. government had increased almost three times, its requests to Twitter. Almost tripling its requests from 2013-2015, it received a total of 5,109 requests, a huge increase from the 2,879 in 2014, and 1,717 in 2013.

#1 –Finance

With its background off Wall Street, the company’s attentiveness to the financial market is above-par. Delivering real-time alerts to companies about investment-related information, is game-changing.

#2 –Public Sector

Dataminr has entered the public sector, focusing on public safety. Providing immense value to emergency response groups and personnel, the New York City Department of Emergency Management has expressed great interest. The city’s desire to incorporate social media to help the city respond more quickly to emergency situations, has helped Dataminr’s global value.

#3 –Corporate Security

In an age of data breaches and privacy, Dataminr’s service is invaluable. It’s important for any company to create and implement an incident response plan.

#4 –News and Journalism

Partnering with Twitter, Dataminr is able to deliver breaking information to journalists, minimizing the need to monitor feeds all day. Social media has a large set of data, extremely random and unstructured.

Even with a simple Boolean search, those terms used, may not be relevant tomorrow. With almost half a billion tweets sent each day, how do you find content you’re looking for?

“They can change in a matter of minutes,” said Steven Schwartz, President of the Commercial Markets vertical.

The Age of Millennials

As a millennial, I was curious on how a company like Dataminr approaches the younger demographic.

“I love talking to younger people in the workforce; they intuitively understand, relevant information can surface anytime, anywhere. And, we solve a real problem against that reality.” –Steven Schwartz

According to Schwartz, the way information used to flow in a linear fashion, is an old paradigm. No more spoon feeding by traditional news organizations. “Generationally speaking, those folks instantly understand the value Dataminr delivers,” explained Schwartz.

“What we’ve done is built this product to allow these professionals to capture this information in real-time, and make informed decisions based off that information.”

Drew Rossow is a contributing editor to Grit Daily. He is a criminal defense/internet attorney, writer, and adjunct law professor in Dayton, Ohio. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas. A Millennial, Rossow provides perspectives on social media crimes, privacy risks, Millennials, and business. Rossow consults for ABC, FOX, and NBC on the latest news in technology law.