Producing a tool that will automatically verify UGC

By Paul Shanley

Our director of international development and partnerships explains how we’re using a grant from Google to produce a cloud-based newsroom tool that will combine artificial intelligence with our editorial expertise to automatically source and verify user-generated content.

Recently, we were accepted into Google’s Digital News Initiative, a collaboration between the technology company and European publishers to support high-quality journalism.

We received a grant to develop a tool that newsrooms around the globe can use to automatically verify user-generated content (UGC). The team responsible for developing this project will consist of engineers working closely with our editorial experts who regularly verify UGC on a daily basis.

How will this software work?

It will combine AP’s pioneering UGC verification process with visual recognition and machine-learning technologies, allowing users to request verification for a particular story by simply pasting a link to the content or uploading the video.

It aims to automate the UGC value chain at the following stages:

Source identification: The tool will analyse available social media information to identify the source of content and assess whether it has legitimately posted important news content or whether there are contributing factors that indicate otherwise.

These factors could include locations, associations with organisations that may make them an authority and previous social media posts.

Content verification: The software will automatically provide information to verify UGC content, providing a detailed outline of the steps taken and results of the verification process.

What key questions will it answer?

- Is the source of the content credible?
- Is the location correct?
- Is the date and time of the video correct?
- Is the material consistent with other media surrounding the event?

What tangible benefits will it provide the news industry?

Our primary objective is to increase access to this important type of news content and increase the accuracy of reporting using UGC, providing the following benefits to journalists:

Reduced exposure to traumatic material: We aim to minimise the need for reporters to review traumatic content repeatedly, reducing additional stress.

Time savings: UGC sourcing and verification in newsrooms around the world takes considerable time and resource. We aim to allow journalists to spend more of their day on reporting.

Improved standards: Verification standards vary across the industry, often causing misleading content to enter the public domain. We aim to develop true standards that improve the accuracy of information consumed by audiences.

Increased use of UGC: Many organisations lack the resources to verify UGC and include it in their reporting. We aim to expand access to this increasingly important content source.

We look forward to sharing the results of this project as it progresses.


Need help verifying user-generated content before our project launches?

Learn more about getting real-time access to AP’s social vetting process to find and verify UGC whenever news breaks.


Paul Shanley

Paul is the director of international business development and partnerships for The Associated Press. He drives the global strategy for AP Video Hub as well as a number of other products, focusing on revenue growth and customer engagement.

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