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Hoaxy Visualizes the Spread of Online News

Hoax

As I seem to have become the resident “fake news” writer here at ProfHacker, I feel like I would be remiss not to review the new tool Hoaxy, developed by Filippo Menczer, a professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University at Bloomington (you can read an interview with him here).

According to the FAQ on the website,

Hoaxy visualizes the spread of claims and related fact checking online. A claim may be a fake news article, hoax, rumor, conspiracy theory, satire, or even an accurate report. Anyone can use Hoaxy to explore how claims spread across social media. You can select any matching fact-checking articles to observe how those spread as well.

We track the social sharing of links to stories published by two types of websites: (1) Independent fact-checking organizations, such as snopes.com, politifact.com, and factcheck.org, that routinely fact check unverified claims. (2) Sources that often publish inaccurate, unverified, or satirical claims according to lists compiled and published by reputable news and fact-checking organizations.

I took the app for a spin, using the term “Russian Hacking.” Maybe the search terms were too broad, but basically, no “fact-checking” website shared any stories on this subject.

Hoaxy screenshot 1

Hoaxy screenshot 2

So, I’m now not sure at all about the veracity of claims about Russian hacking as it relates to the recent election, because, well, there isn’t an orange line anywhere. But I am seeing how much it has spread on sites and spaces that are known for sharing inaccurate information. But you can see how the app visualizes the spread of the news and who tweeted what and when.

I think I’ll be introducing the tool to students, to complement their work on the Digital Polarization Initiative. I definitely need to play around with it a little bit more, but I can see the utility, and the search results say as much about my search terms (and commonly used terms) as it does about the spread of this story.

Do you see yourself using this tool with your students? How? Please share in the comments.

Image Hoax by erokism licensed CC-BY 2.0 

 

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