When it comes to QAnon, there’s one major player behind a majority of the into who’s responsible for some of the movement’s far-right conspiracy theories. The fact-checking technology firm has uncovered the turned major QAnon , the Citigroup executive a major QAnon hub, and the QAnon platforms to 8kun owner Jim Watkins — among others.
Founded in 2017 by CEO Lyric Jain, the company combines its AI tech with human fact-checking experts in order to uncover, track, archive, and debunk conspiracy theories ranging from QAnon to misinformation about COVID-19. The company already has a few public-facing products, such as mobile apps and web browser extensions to help users navigate online misinformation they may come across throughout their everyday internet use.
Now, the company has announced it’s opening up one of the secret weapons it’s used to take on QAnon to third parties: Logically Intelligence, an AI-powered web platform that finds and analyzes online misinformation, as well as provides courses of action to take against it.
“Logically Intelligence is a culmination of four years of work,” Jain explained to me. “We can find ways to predict the impact of emerging threats and give our partners ways to mitigate them.”
While the platform is currently only available to a few select government agencies around the world, last week, Logically provided Mashable with an exclusive online tour of Logically Intelligence. Here’s what it can do.
Enter the situation room
Using Logically Intelligence, users can track multiple online themes or narratives, such as specific keywords or types of conversations surrounding a conspiracy theory. Each conspiracy or misinformation theme is broken down in individual “Situation Rooms.” For example, a user looking to track COVID-19 misinformation can set up a situation room around that narrative and Logically Intelligence will track down online conversations about those coronavirus conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns from across the entire web.
The screenshot above shows a situation room monitoring QAnon content. As you can see, even though Facebook and Twitter have banned QAnon from its platforms, most of the content Logically Intelligence found related to the conspiracy still comes from these two platforms.
Logically Intelligence can pull in content from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit, as well as news articles and sites from across the internet. Anyone who has ever used a social media or press monitoring tool like Sprout or Awario will be quite familiar with this part of Logically Intelligence.
Scanning even the dark corners of the web
One of the things that Logically Intelligence does that those other monitoring platforms don’t is track content from emerging alternative social media services. Logically’s platform can track content from sites like Parler, Gab, and even public group chats on Telegram.
This is an extremely important feature as many misinformation spreaders and conspiracy theorists, including QAnon influencers, move to these alternative platforms. While mainstream social media sites can tell users where and how falsehoods are spreading, the source of these claims often lie on those alternative platforms.
Logically tells Mashable that it remains engaged in how its clients are using the platform. In fact, certain features — such as the ability to track users and content on Parler, Gab, and Telegram — are only activated by request to trusted partners. (Logically tells me that it needs to consistently update its platform to pull this data due to the social media services constantly changing their tech, which is why it’s not activated as the default at this time.)
How it works
Individual pieces of content are broken down by Logically Intelligence’s AI to provide numerous points of data.
Take the above screenshot of an anti-vaxxer’s post pulled by the platform. Logically Intelligence analyzes the content in order to provide details on how far-reaching a specific account and the post’s audience is, along with the demographics targeted. The AI is also able to uncover any recurring or new narratives coming from these posts. Based on this information, Logically Intelligence categorizes pieces of misinformation into threat categories such as false information, toxic information, and inauthentic accounts.
An extremely important feature here is that each post pulled by Logically Intelligence is archived right on the platform, so they remain accessible regardless of whether the original poster or the social media platform removes the content.
Logically Intelligence also provides a visual experience to explore the data. The screenshot above almost looks like a beautiful piece of art…until you remember that it’s connecting some of the most bizarre and even dangerous conspiracy theories and nefarious actors on the internet. This web cloud helps users connect the dots between different pieces of misinformation. Users can see what accounts are posting certain hashtags or articles and how they’re being spread across the internet. This is all extremely helpful for users looking to connect threads or find the originating source for falsehoods and for monitoring specific influential users and narratives that are being latched onto.
Finding the bots and preventing bad actors
The platform doesn’t just suss out misinformation. It can also uncover accounts weaponized to carry out disinformation campaigns such as bot accounts, accounts impersonating other users, accounts utilizing automated behaviors, and even extremist content.
This is where the countermeasures feature — which helps facilitate actual action to be taken against a user or a piece of content — comes into play. Using Logically Intelligence, users can request that human misinformation experts look into a specific claim in order to provide crucial fact checking. They can also report the content to social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from right on the platform.
Currently, the platform is being tested with only select governmental bodies around the world. While Logically didn’t divulge exactly who is using the platform, the company did say that Logically Intelligence was utilized in a U.S. battleground state during the 2020 election to identity 40,000 threats to election integrity. (Logically says the platform has uncovered more than 3.4 million pieces of “high threat” content over the past 12 months.)
A core user base made up of government agencies brought up numerous concerns for me. Such as: What if a government agency tried to use the platform to classify critical factual information about the ruling administration as misinformation? Examples of this range from Myanmar’s new government cracking down on anti-coup protesters to U.S. law enforcement monitoring Black Lives Matter activists and propagandizing against protests last summer.
Logically’s CEO says the company monitors how clients use Logically Intelligence. This isn’t hard for now, at least, as only a few select third parties are using the service. Human fact checkers analyze the veracity of the claims on the platform, so not everything is dependent on AI, which might miss the nuance in some of the scenarios mentioned above. On top of that, any use of the platform that deviates from its purpose of monitoring misinformation would need to be signed off by the company’s ethics board. Logically says it’s selective of who it works with and contractually reserves the right to end a partnership at any time.
Facing tech challenges and beyond
The main challenge for Logically Intelligence isn’t just technological. The company will need to keep working on its AI in order to keep it up to date with the ever-changing landscape of the internet. Logically Intelligence will also require its human fact-checkers to keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s spreading online. As Logically Intelligence grows its user base from just a few select governmental bodies, the company will also need to ensure its platform isn’t being used by bad actors.
Those using the platform in good faith also need to know that this tool won’t solve the misinformation problem. But by using Logically Intelligence, one can definitely help keep track of the problem, get a better understanding of how it’s spreading, and help squash specific false narratives. Perhaps they’ll even unmask some QAnon influencers of their own.