Say Hello to Hoaxy: “Indiana University Researchers Launch Tool to Understand Spread of Fake News”
From Indiana University:
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.”
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.
An academic paper on the project, “Hoaxy: A Platform for Tracking Online Misinformation,” is available online from the Proceedings of the 25th International Conference Companion on World Wide Web.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.