Web Scraping Plays Crucial Role in Fighting Disinformation, says “Project 4β”

By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on April 1, 2024

With the prevalence of fake news and disinformation, only 12 percent of EU population said that they are confident in identifying disinformation. Oxylabs pro bono initiative “Project 4β” stresses the importance of utilising data scraping technologies to combat these unethical practices. 

The spread of false information has been a persistent issue since the advent of the internet, but the emergence of AI technologies has exacerbated the problem. This challenge is especially significant in the current climate of wars and global uncertainty, with critical events such as the European Parliament elections, the US presidential elections, and dubious elections in Russia and Belarus that took place just recently.

In these times, it is crucial for citizens to critically assess the news they consume from various online sources. Distinguishing between accurate and false information in the AI era requires some level of expertise. Oxylabs identifies web scraping solutions as key in empowering organisations to fight against misinformation.

Vaidotas Šedys, Head of the Risk Management department at Oxylabs, commented, “AI, while revolutionary, has a darker side in its capacity to advance oppressive agendas through the spread of misinformation. Two factors are particularly concerning. First, the use of chatbots and other AI tools allows for the automated, cost-effective distribution of large volumes of false information across platforms. Second, AI can create convincing fake images, videos, and audio that distort reality. Even when such fabrications are identified as fake, they contribute to a general distrust in publicly available information, hindering coordinated action among the people.”

Last year, Debunk.org, a disinformation analysis centre, uncovered a startling example of this issue. They investigated prominent Kremlin media outlets and identified a ‘journalist’ named Marina Sovina, who reportedly published 38,000 articles in one year, primarily about Ukraine. Two days before the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, on 22 February 2022, ‘Sovina’ wrote over 150 articles in a single day. These articles contained unverifiable claims, and it was later revealed that Marina Sovina did not exist but was a fictitious entity used by the Russian government for propaganda purposes. This case underscores the ease and speed with which disinformation can spread online, often from seemingly credible sources.

Viktoras Dauksas, Head of Debunk.org, stated, “We see a high increase in the number of threats of FIMI (foreign information manipulations and interference) and disinformation attacks targeting Baltic and all Europe. The Robo-journalism case only highlights the magnitude of the disinformation problem, but there are viable solutions. With appropriate tools, governments and organisations can effectively tackle disinformation.”

In early 2023 Oxylabs’ “Project 4β” joined forces with Debunk.org in a pro bono collaboration. This partnership grants Debunk.org free access to Oxylabs’ out-of-the-box solutions, such as scraper APIs and the world’s largest ethical proxy network This allows the organisation and its volunteers to gather publicly available data, make the fact-checking processes faster, and get valuable insights for their research. Through “4β,” Oxylabs gives access to the company’s web intelligence collection solutions and expertise for researchers, academia and organisations, including Bellingcat, Confirmado, Civic Resilience Initiative, to name a few. 

 Viktoras Dauksas continued, “Authoritarian regimes and related threat actors increasingly attempt to destabilise democracies are advancing their operations, it’s crucial for organisations fighting disinformation to remain technologically updated. There is just too much information for analysts to review. NGOs and NPOs, in particular, stand to benefit significantly from partnerships with leading companies that can provide the latest technologies. Such collaborations are pivotal for enhancing research capabilities, improving disinformation analysis, and fostering greater transparency globally.”

“Work on FIMI methodologies and adopting best practices from the field of cyber security, building a FIMI defenders community, and developing better technologies for countering disinformation will also be the key areas for the next decade. These efforts are crucial in building a more informed and truthful digital ecosystem,” concluded Debunk.org’s director.

About Oxylabs

Established in 2015, Oxylabs is a premium proxy and web intelligence acquisition solution provider, enabling companies of all sizes to utilise the power of big data. Constant innovation, a large patent portfolio, and a focus on ethics have allowed Oxylabs to become a global leader in the data acquisition industry and forge close ties with dozens of Fortune Global 500 companies. In 2022 and 2023, Oxylabs was named the fastest-growing public data gathering solutions company in Europe in the Financial Times’ FT 1000 list.

By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Grit Daily News is the premier startup news hub. It is the top news source on Millennial and Gen Z startups — from fashion, tech, influencers, entrepreneurship, and funding. Based in New York, our team is global and brings with it over 400 years of combined reporting experience.

Read more

More GD News