Hoaxy ,tool to check spread of fake news online

Indiana,Dec23:The tool, called Hoaxy, visualises how claims made in fake news spread online.

“In the past year, the influence of fake news in the US has grown from a niche concern to a phenomenon with the power to sway public opinion,” said Filippo Menczer, a professor at Indiana University (IU) in the US.

“We’ve now even seen examples of fake news inspiring real-life danger, such as the gunman who fired shots in a Washington, DC pizza parlour in response to false claims of child trafficking,” said Menczer.

Users can 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 organisations.

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 organisations.

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.

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.

Hoaxy’s visualisations illustrate both temporal trends and diffusion networks as they relate to online claims and fact-checks, said Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, a research scientist at the IU Network Science Institute.

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 visualisations.

“Not all claims you can visualize on Hoaxy are false, nor are we saying that the fact-checkers are 100 per cent correct all of the time,” said Menczer.

“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,” he said.

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