What’s trending in fake news? IU tools show which stories go viral, and if ‘bots’ are to blame
Researchers at the Indiana University Observatory on Social Media have launched upgrades to two tools playing a major role in countering the spread of misinformation online.
The improvements to Hoaxy and Botometerare supported by the Knight Prototype Fund on Misinformation, a joint venture of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation and the Democracy Fund to address concerns about the spread of misinformation and to build trust in quality journalism. A third tool — an educational game designed to make people smarter news consumers — also launches with the upgrades.
“The majority of the changes to Hoaxy and Botometer are specifically designed to make the tools more usable by journalists and average citizens,” said Filippo Menczer, a professor in the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering and a member of the IU Network Science Institute. “You can now easily detect when information is spreading virally, and who is responsible for its spread.”
Hoaxy is a search engine that shows users how stories from low-credibility sources spread on Twitter. Botometer is an app that assigns a score to Twitter users based on the likelihood that the account is automated.
Hoaxy’s new functions show users which stories are trending on Twitter, including those from low-credibility sources. It also indicates what proportion of the users who are spreading the stories are likely to be “bots.” These new features were previewed April 12 at the International Symposium on Online Journalism in Austin, Texas, by Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, a research scientist at the IU Network Science Institute who is part of the team that developed the tools.
The new version of Botometer employs updated machine learning algorithms to identify “bots” with greater accuracy and is strongly integrated with Hoaxy. Users can observe not only how information spreads across Twitter, but also whether these messages are mostly shared by real people or pushed by a computer program potentially designed to sway public opinion.
Automated accounts are commonly used to give the false impression that a large number of people are speaking about a specific topic online, Menczer said. Political campaigns, celebrities and advertisers are known to use bots to push specific agendas or products.
The updated Hoaxy also has a “trending stories” section that displays popular news stories along with claims from low-credibility sources. This is possible because Hoaxy can now trace the spread of any online news story or hashtag over time across Twitter. Previously, users could only analyze headlines from specific websites identified by nonpartisan groups as likely to post false or misleading information.
Ciampaglia said Hoaxy and Botometer currently process hundreds of thousands of daily online queries. The technology has enabled researchers, including a team at IU, to study how information flows online in the presence of bots. Examples are a study on the cover of the March issue of Science that analyzed the spread of false news on Twitter and an analysis from the Pew Research Center in April that found that nearly two-thirds of the links to popular websites on Twitter are shared by automated accounts.
The newly launched project is Fakey, a web and mobile news literacy game that mixes news stories with false reports, clickbait headlines, conspiracy theories and “junk science.” Players earn points by “fact-checking” false information and liking or sharing accurate stories. The project, led by IU graduate student Mihai Avram, was created to help people develop responsible social media consumption habits. An Android app is available, and an iOS versions will launch shortly.
All three tools are united through their creators’ goal to help individuals understand the role of misinformation online, Menczer said.
“By partnering with other groups,” he added, “we’re able to significantly amplify the power of our work in the fight against online disinformation.”
Receive an email update when we add a new FAKE NEWS article.
The Latest on: Countering online misinformation and manipulation
via Google News
The Latest on: Countering online misinformation and manipulation
- Russia's election manipulation a bigger win on Instagram than on Facebook, report finds on December 17, 2018 at 5:05 pm
The Russian Internet Research Agency, the troll farm that has sought to divide Americans with misinformation and meme content ... Twitter Inc. said it too had made significant strides in countering ma... […]
- How Russia’s online influence campaign engaged with millions for years on December 17, 2018 at 1:02 pm
The report, which you can read here, was published today but given to some outlets over the weekend; it summarizes the work of the Internet Research Agency, Moscow’s online influence factory and ... […]
- Twitter tanks after disclosing that its support form exposed data to IP addresses in China and Saudi Arabia on December 17, 2018 at 12:32 pm
Twitter was also called out for its role in spreading misinformation by Russian actors in an independent ... We've made significant strides since 2016 to counter manipulation of our service, including ... […]
- Senate reports show intensity of Russian misinformation campaign on December 17, 2018 at 6:00 am
Two outside research groups used data obtained from Silicon Valley giants by the Senate Intelligence Committee to paint an sweeping picture of Russia’s online disinformation ... expect to see recruitm... […]
- When 'Misinformation' Is Named the Word of the Year on December 13, 2018 at 8:01 pm
But most readers and viewers in simpler times were sure they knew how to separate the wheat of facts from the chaff of manipulation ... Dictionary.com have named "misinformation" the Word of ... […]
- How do scientists counter ‘fake news’ in the era of InfoWars? on December 5, 2018 at 5:13 am
Related article: Experts must counter 'simplistic ... to anticipate campaigns of misinformation and disinformation and to proactively develop online strategies and internet platforms to counteract ... […]
- Twitter bots had 'disproportionate' role spreading misinformation in 2016 election: study on November 20, 2018 at 8:08 am
The brief length of this time—2 to 10 seconds—highlights the challenges of countering the spread of misinformation online ... are also vulnerable to manipulation. For example, platforms ... […]
- Misinformation and biases infect social media, both intentionally and accidentally on June 20, 2018 at 3:35 am
Our research has identified three types of bias that make the social media ecosystem vulnerable to both intentional and accidental misinformation ... for manipulation, either consciously or unintentio... […]
- YouTube will start displaying Wikipedia articles next to conspiracy theory videos on March 14, 2018 at 1:39 pm
"Finding ways to counter conspiracy theories and media manipulation ... studies online trolling and digital culture. However, Phillips noted YouTube's approach could likely lead to a number of issues, ... […]
via Bing News