New website advances effort to reduce harmful impact of news hoaxes in society
The Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University has launched a powerful new tool in the fight against fake news.
The tool, called Hoaxy, visualizes how claims in the news — and fact checks of those claims — spread online through social networks. The tool is built upon earlier work at IU led by Filippo Menczer, a professor and director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research in the IU School of Informatics and Computing.
“In the past year, the influence of fake news in the U.S. has grown from a niche concern to a phenomenon with the power to sway public opinion,” Menczer said. “We’ve now even seen examples of fake news inspiring real-life danger, such as the gunman who fired shots in a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor in response to false claims of child trafficking.”
Previous tools from the observatory at IU include BotOrNot, a system to assess whether the intelligence behind a Twitter account is more likely a person or a computer, and a suite of online tools that allows anyone to analyze the spread of hashtags across social networks.
In response to the growth of fake news, several major web services are making changes to curtail the spread of false information on their platforms. Google and Facebook recently banned the use of their advertisement services on websites that post fake news, for example. Facebook also rolled out a system last week through which users can flag stories they suspect are false, which are then referred to third-party fact-checkers.
Over the past several months, Menczer and colleagues were frequently cited as experts on how fake news and misinformation spread in outlets such as PBS Newshour, Scientific American, The Atlantic, Reuters, Australian Public Media, NPR and BuzzFeed.
Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, a research scientist at the IU Network Science Institute, coordinated the Hoaxy project with Menczer. Ciampaglia said a user can now enter a claim into the service’s website and see results that show both incidents of the claim in the media and attempts to fact-check it by independent organizations such as snopes.com, politifact.com and factcheck.org. These results can then be selected to generate a visualization of how the articles are shared across social media.
The site’s search results display headlines that appeared on sites known to publish inaccurate, unverified or satirical claims based upon lists compiled and published by reputable news and fact-checking organizations.
A search of the terms “cancer” and “cannabis,” for example, turns up multiple claims that cannabis has been found to cure cancer, a statement whose origins have been roundly debunked by the reputable fact-checking website snopes.com. A search of social shares of articles that make the claim, however, shows a clear rise in people sharing the story, with under 10 claims in July rising to hundreds by December.
Specifically, Ciampaglia said, Hoaxy’s visualizations illustrate both temporal trends and diffusion networks as they relate to online claims and fact-checks. Temporal trends plot the cumulative number of Twitter shares over time. Diffusion networks show how claims spread from person to person. Twitter is currently the only social network tracked by Hoaxy, and only publicly posted tweets appear in the visualizations.
“Importantly, we do not decide what is true or false,” Menczer said. “Not all claims you can visualize on Hoaxy are false, nor are we saying that the fact-checkers are 100 percent correct all of the time. Hoaxy is a tool to observe how unverified stories and the fact-checking of those stories spread on public social media. It’s up to users to evaluate the evidence about a claim and its rebuttal.”
Menczer’s interest in fake news began over seven years ago. In an experiment reported in a paper titled “Social Spam Detection,” he created a website of fake celebrity news clearly marked as false and promoted the articles on social bookmarking websites, which were popular at the time. After a month, Menczer was shocked to receive a check based on ad revenue from the site.
“That early experiment demonstrated the power of the internet to monetize false information,” he said. “I didn’t expect at the time that the problem would reach the level of national debate.”
In the years since the experiment, however, the volume and influence of fake news have expanded across the web from sources as disparate as satirical websites, ideologically motived organizations and Macedonian teenagers working to rake in advertising dollars.
“If we want to stop the growing influence of fake news in our society, first we need to understand the mechanisms behind how it spreads,” Menczer said. “Tools like Hoaxy are an important step in the process.”
Receive an email update when we add a new FAKE NEWS article.
The Latest on: Fake news
via Google News
The Latest on: Fake news
- Dr. Praeger's, famous for its veggie burgers, launches fake meat patty on June 20, 2019 at 5:26 pm
Dr. Praeger's, known for making veggie burgers that taste like veggie burgers, is expanding into fake meat. The company has started selling the "Perfect Burger," a meatless burger designed to taste ... […]
- Indian man gets 7 years for arranging 80 fake marriages on June 20, 2019 at 4:52 pm
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — An Indian man living in Florida has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for arranging more than 80 fraudulent marriages. Court records show that 47-year-old Ravi Babu ... […]
- The fake minister in a silicon mask who stole millions on June 20, 2019 at 3:56 pm
Identity theft is said to be the world's fastest-growing crime, but in sheer chutzpah there can be few cons to match the story of the fake French minister from Ukraine and his silicon mask. For two ... […]
- WSJ: Google Maps is flooded with 'millions' of fake business listings (updated) on June 20, 2019 at 2:12 pm
A new WSJ report estimates millions of Google listings contain false information. If you've ever tried to find a locksmith on Google in a pinch, this may not surprise you. Turns out Google Maps is ... […]
- 'Pure Fake News': Donald Trump Jr. Slams Roy Moore Claim His Senate Bid is 'Not Going Against President Trump' on June 20, 2019 at 1:52 pm
First son Donald Trump Jr. attacked Roy Moore on Thursday quickly after the Alabama Republican politician announced he is again running for the U.S. Senate, deeming Moore's claim he is "not going ... […]
- Engineers built a robot fish that powers itself with 'fake blood' on June 20, 2019 at 1:15 pm
(CNN)Robots are taking a step closer to resembling us. To tackle an energy problem in robots, engineers at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania turned to human bodies for inspiration. ... […]
- Google Maps has a fake business listing problem on June 20, 2019 at 12:28 pm
Google Maps is overrun with fake business listings and phone numbers that reroute to competing businesses, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Hundreds of thousands of fake listings appear on ... […]
- Bridgend Council warning over fake litter officer scam on June 20, 2019 at 8:56 am
Conmen disguised as litter enforcement officers have been demanding cash from passers-by, a council has warned. Bridgend Council said it has received reports of two men demanding instant cash payments ... […]
- Putin Says U.S. Establishment Stops Trump From Improving Ties With Russia And 'Invents Fake News' on June 20, 2019 at 8:44 am
Russian president Vladimir Putin blamed the U.S. establishment for preventing an improvement in relations between Moscow and Washington. During his annual televised question-and-answer session with ... […]
via Bing News