In a blog post on Tuesday, Alphabet-owned Jigsaw, formerly known as Google Ideas, announced a new tool that will help journalists and fact-checking organizations combat misinformation. The new tool is developed by Jigsaw, together with Google Research and other academic partners.
The unit at Alphabet created an experimental platform called Assembler that uses advanced detection technology that will make it easier for fact-checkers and journalists to identify misleading and doctored images and therefore fight digital disinformation, harassment, violent extremism, etc. The new tool is completely free, however, only reporters and fact-checkers will be able to use it.
The company said in a statement: “We built it to help advance the field of science, and to help provide journalists and fact-checkers with strong signals that, combined with their expertise, can help them judge if and where an image has been manipulated.”
The Assembler works by using seven “detectors.” Each of them specializes in detecting certain types of photo manipulation. Five of the detectors were created by researchers at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy, the University of Maryland, and the University of California, Berkeley.
For their part, the Jigsaw team was responsible for creating two other detectors. One of them, StyleGAN, specifically addresses deepfakes using machine learning to tell whether an image is real or manipulated; another one combines signals from the rest of the detectors, which allows it to discover multiple types of manipulation at the same time.
Jared Cohen, the CEO of Jigsaw, said in a blog post: “Assembler brings together multiple image manipulation detectors from various academics into one tool, each one designed to spot specific types of image manipulations. Individually, these detectors can identify very specific types of manipulation — such as copy-paste or manipulations to image brightness. Assembled together, they begin to create a comprehensive assessment of whether an image has been manipulated in any way.”
He also stated that Assembler is “an early stage experimental platform advancing new detection technology.” More than a dozen organizations are testing the new tool now; among them, there are Animal Politico, Code for Africa, Rappler, Agence France-Presse, etc.
Apart from Assembler, Jigsaw also introduced The Current, which is a new research publication that “illuminates complex problems through an interdisciplinary approach.” The company says that it is still a work in progress, and the first issue is about “exploring the architecture of disinformation campaigns, the tactics and technology used, and how new technology is being used to detect and stop disinformation campaigns.”