Did a funny thing really happen on the train today? Did your precocious child really make that amusing observation about Star Wars? Was actor and comedian Gary Wilmot really found dead in a hotel wardrobe with his shoelaces around his neck and a slice of orange in his mouth last night? An internet lie detector may soon be able to provide reassurances either way.
The idea behind the Pheme project is to use software to analyse the sources of internet gossip and attempt to break down rumour and unsubstantiated claims into one of four believability groups, ranging from disinformation (a complete lie), though to misinformation, controversy and speculation. Speculation being the most generous way of describing today's most outrageous unconfirmed internet rumour.
Tools would analyse the history and account age of the poster making the claim and the voracity of any news sites repeating or linked to it, in an attempt to nip hoax death stories and the usual fake web site scams spread by new social accounts and bots in the bud.
Five universities are collaborating on its development, with the hope being that it may give journalists a quick clue as to the likelihood of that rumour about Ross Kemp actually being a carefully shaved woman is true or not. [BBC]
Image credit: Lie detector from Shutterstock