Polygraph result from an interview with Jack Ruby. Photo: National Archives/Corbis/Getty

Researchers at Florida State University and Stanford are developing an "online polygraph" that detects lies in text — without the contextual clues that can hint at deception in a face-to-face conversation.

Details: In experiments, the researchers found that liars used more florid prose and often expressed certainty, while truth-tellers responded more slowly and with words like "perhaps," "guess" and "could." They designed a machine learning system that can pick up on these subtle cues to correctly separate out liars from truth-tellers about three-quarters of the time. The results were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

"You could use it for online dating, Facebook, Twitter — the applications are endless," says FSU researcher Shuyuan Ho, the paper's lead author, in an article published by the university.

Our thought bubble: The accuracy of old-school polygraphs — the ones that output the seismic wiggles seen above — has long been in question. A new test would have to clear a high bar to prove that it's not calibrated only to a certain group of people. It also provokes thorny ethical questions about the prospect of automatic deception-monitoring in online spaces.

Go deeper

S&P 500's historic rebound leaves investors divided on future

Data: Money.net; Chart: Axios Visuals

The S&P 500 nearly closed at an all-time high on Wednesday and remains poised to go from peak to trough to peak in less than half a year.

By the numbers: Since hitting its low on March 23, the S&P has risen about 50%, with more than 40 of its members doubling, according to Bloomberg. The $12 trillion dollars of share value that vanished in late March has almost completely returned.

Newsrooms abandoned as pandemic drags on

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facing enormous financial pressure and uncertainty around reopenings, media companies are giving up on their years-long building leases for more permanent work-from-home structures. Others are letting employees work remotely for the foreseeable future.

Why it matters: Real estate is often the most expensive asset that media companies own. And for companies that don't own their space, it's often the biggest expense.

2 hours ago - Technology

Dark clouds envelop feel-good Pinterest

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Pinterest set out to be a bright spot in cutthroat Silicon Valley, but now stands to see its reputation forever tarnished by allegations of mistreatment and a toxic culture by women who held senior roles at the company.

Why it matters: Even a company known for progressive policy decisions and successfully combatting hateful and otherwise problematic content isn't immune to the systemic problems that have plagued many tech companies.