Anyone who has spent prolonged time on the internet has come across something that raised their eyebrows.
That can’t be right… can it?
While we can attempt to hone and refine our BS-detectors as best as possible, sometimes, it’s tough to tell right from wrong online.
We need look no further than the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica. The company found infamy following the 2016 election after it was revealed it had intentionally disseminated misinformation on social media to sway the public conscience for or against a given cause.
Insidious to many, the gray area of internet ethics provided the opportunity for Cambridge to make millions. The years that followed have seen attempted steep crackdowns on the proliferation of disinformation of this kind, and it has even opened new doors for startups.
Namely, those working to combat disinformation online…
In the past few years, companies working to combat disinformation online have brought in more than $300 million of investment. However, unfortunately, the problem still persists.
In the past year alone, there has been a 150% rise in the amount of political disinformation online, according to ActiveFence, a startup that developed technology to detect harmful online content.
Because of this uptick, companies like ActiveFence, which has raised $100 million to date, are in hot demand. It is one of four different startups fighting disinformation that have raised more than $35 million in funding.
Of course, like many big problems, it’s going to be an uphill battle to find the perfect solution.
“Ferreting out misinformation through tech is a really hard problem, on multiple levels,” University of Massachusetts professor of public policy, communication and information Ethan Zuckerman told Crunchbase.
“First, you have to agree on what is misinformation. Sometimes that’s easy. Often it’s complex and subjective. And even if you can do it for big conspiracy theories, it’s hard to do misinfo debunking for local stories all over the world.”
That said, it goes without saying that “really hard problems” are also really big opportunities.
So, it’s no surprise this sector has seen such fervent attention in recent years. We expect this will only continue to increase.
As always, we’ll let you know of any investment opportunities we identify in this space.
The A+E Network Deal Research Team