Startup tackling fake news with AI nets funding to expand

A startup using artificial intelligence (AI) to tackle the proliferation of fake news and extremist content online will expand after closing a $1m (£720,000) seed funding round that attracted major US backers.

London-based Factmata’s funding round was led by tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban, but also attracted high-profile investors such as Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, internet entrepreneur Sunil Paul and, more recently, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark.

The company will put the cash towards research and development, product development and expanding its team beyond machine-learning specialists.

The round was initially closed last August but soon reopened to close formally in the last couple of weeks.

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“Every day there’s an article or there’s someone talking about fake news at the World Economic Forum, so I wanted to keep the round open so people could come in quite late in the process,” founder and chief executive Dhruv Ghulati told City A.M.

Factmata is developing both business and consumer-facing products, such as an anti-fake news platform for journalists, researchers and the public to use, as well as collaborating globally with advertisers and businesses that can use its algorithms to sift through and identify fake news, spoof sites and hate content.

Ghulati, who was recently named one of Forbes' 30 Under 30

On the B2B side, this would help advertisers find junk content on potential sites they would be advertising on.

Factmata has not yet launched its consumer offering but is working towards an alpha version of its consumer product that will be ready towards the end of the first half of this year. It is in trials already with several advertising supply/demand side platforms and exchanges to test its B2B offering.

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Its long-term aim is to provide “a real-time quality and credibility score to any piece of content on the web”.

“I think this [funding round] gives us credibility,” said Ghulati, who developed the company after researching fake news and AI for his Masters thesis.

“It’s going to definitely help with people believing in us that we are the right company to try and attack this really quite difficult problem and fulfill these ambitions that we have to really change how, effectively, news is consumed today on the internet.”

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