The All Turtles Podcast Episode 48: AI and fake news with Renée DiResta

When controversial headlines flood Twitter and Facebook, these rage machines disseminate disinformation. AI plays a role in perpetuating fake news, but it could also be a part of the solution in detecting and preventing the malignant spread of fake stories. Renée DiResta is a researcher of computational propaganda and disinformation. On this episode, she talks through some recent news stories and how they serve as examples of the ways in which technology facilitates tribalism.

Show notes


Conversation with Renée DiResta (0:50)

Renée DiResta researches the spread of malign information on the internat (1:01)

Data for Democracy is a worldwide community working together to find truth through data and technology (1:02)

New Knowledge is an information integrity company (1:02)

The Covington Catholic news story (1:10)

How technology facilitates tribalism (5:54)

Using something like AI to intercept disinformation before it spreads widely (9:15)

Renée on her Senate report about Russia’s disinformation in the 2016 election (12:20)

The sophisticated processes for gaming Amazon’s review systems (19:30)


Eye roll please (31:21)

Waiting for the “right moment” to launch a product or company (31:25)


Listener question (34:18)

From Jacob via email: Jacob says he is excited about autonomous cars because he hates driving, but in a previous episode, a discussion arose about the fact that not only is it possible that bad actors may interfere with the security of self-driving cars while they’re on the road, but that it “will happen.” So this listener asks: What can we do about this? Cryptography is not bulletproof, and also has system performance impacts. What is missing in the tech ecosystem to prevent tragedies related to the “hacking” of self-driving cars?

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