Fair News: news in a Big Data era

26 September 2017

How far can algorithms go in filtering information and how far should they be allowed to go? When are fundamental rights put at risk? These are the most important questions addressed in a new project entitled Fair News, nieuwsvoorziening in een Big Data tijdperk, led by IViR researcher Joris Hoboken and ASCoR professor of Political Communication Claes de Vreese and Assistant Professor Claudia Hauff van TUDelft. The project involves a collaboration with Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant.

How far can algorithms go in filtering information and how far should they be allowed to go? When are fundamental rights put at risk? These are the most important questions addressed in a new project entitled Fair News, nieuwsvoorziening in een Big Data tijdperk, led by IViR researcher Joris Hoboken and ASCoR professor of Political Communication Claes de Vreese and Assistant Professor Claudia Hauff van TUDelft. The project involves a collaboration with Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant.

Algorithmic systems are used in more and more situations. In every possible way they filter, sort, personalise and generate data, while decisions are increasingly taken based on such automatically managed processing of data. However, using algorithms in the news sector also carries certain risks. A lack of clarity may arise regarding who or what precisely is responsible for wrong or unjust decisions based on algorithms. 'The algorithm did it', is not an acceptable excuse if an algorithmic system makes mistakes or has unwanted side effects.

Fairness

The research conducted by Joris van Hoboken and Claes de Vreese is about preventing these side effects from occurring when algorithms are used in the media. What technological possibilities do we have at our disposal in order to guarantee fairness when algorithms are used in the publications and dissemination of online news? To which fairness principles (e.g. non-discrimination, access, transparency and explicability) should such algorithms adhere?

Initial impulse programme (Startimpulsprogramma)

Fair News is part of the VWData Initial Impulse Programme (Startimpulsprogramma VW Data), with 'VW Data' standing for responsible value creation (verantwoorde waardecreatie), and the programme aimed at 'responsible value creation with Big Data'. The programme is financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the recently created National Research Agenda in the Netherlands. The National Research Agenda comprises studies intended to lead to answers to the social and economic issues of the day and the near future. Prof. Dr. Natali Helberber, Professor of Information Law at the Faculty of Law, is Member of the Scientific Steering Group for the VWData project.

Published by  Faculty of Law