Combat COVID-19 Infodemic Using Explainable Natural Language Processing Models

by   Jackie Ayoub, et al.

Misinformation of COVID-19 is prevalent on social media as the pandemic unfolds, and the associated risks are extremely high. Thus, it is critical to detect and combat such misinformation. Recently, deep learning models using natural language processing techniques, such as BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), have achieved great successes in detecting misinformation. In this paper, we proposed an explainable natural language processing model based on DistilBERT and SHAP (Shapley Additive exPlanations) to combat misinformation about COVID-19 due to their efficiency and effectiveness. First, we collected a dataset of 984 claims about COVID-19 with fact checking. By augmenting the data using back-translation, we doubled the sample size of the dataset and the DistilBERT model was able to obtain good performance (accuracy: 0.972; areas under the curve: 0.993) in detecting misinformation about COVID-19. Our model was also tested on a larger dataset for AAAI2021 - COVID-19 Fake News Detection Shared Task and obtained good performance (accuracy: 0.938; areas under the curve: 0.985). The performance on both datasets was better than traditional machine learning models. Second, in order to boost public trust in model prediction, we employed SHAP to improve model explainability, which was further evaluated using a between-subjects experiment with three conditions, i.e., text (T), text+SHAP explanation (TSE), and text+SHAP explanation+source and evidence (TSESE). The participants were significantly more likely to trust and share information related to COVID-19 in the TSE and TSESE conditions than in the T condition. Our results provided good implications in detecting misinformation about COVID-19 and improving public trust.


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