The Truth is Out There: Investigating Conspiracy Theories in Text Generation

01/02/2021 ∙ by Sharon Levy, et al. ∙ 2

With the growing adoption of text generation models in today's society, users are increasingly exposed to machine-generated text. This in turn can leave users vulnerable to the generation of harmful information such as conspiracy theories. While the propagation of conspiracy theories through social media has been studied, previous work has not evaluated their diffusion through text generation. In this work, we investigate the propensity for language models to generate conspiracy theory text. Our study focuses on testing these models for the elicitation of conspiracy theories and comparing these generations to human-written theories from Reddit. We also introduce a new dataset consisting of conspiracy theory topics, machine-generated conspiracy theories, and human-written conspiracy theories. Our experiments show that many well-known conspiracy theory topics are deeply rooted in the pre-trained language models, and can become more prevalent through different model settings.

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