Indiana University researchers launch tool to understand spread of fake news

On Dec. 15, IU Communications learned that Fil Menczer, a professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing who is regarded as an international authority on how information spreads online, would launch a new interactive online tool called “Hoaxy” designed to track the spread of “fake news” across social media, with a particular focus on Twitter.

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Although fake news had become a major topic in the news in the run-up to the 2016 Election, Menczer and colleagues’ work on the Hoaxy began much earlier, with the first academic paper describing the project appearing online in April 2016 following presentation of the work-in-progress during an academic conference in Montreal, Canada. (The online magazine Inverse later dubbed Menczer “the man who saw fake news coming.”)

In advance of the launch of the new website, a select number of reporters who had previously expressed interest in the project were tipped off about the site. A news release on Hoaxy was then sent out from IU at 10:15 a.m. on Dec. 21, coinciding with the official launch date of the site.

Media coverage of Hoaxy appeared in the following outlets:

The news also attracted significant international coverage, including:

In addition, the study was widely shared on social media, including tweets from Germany’s Max Planck Society and NSF Science 360,  a news site managed by the National Science Foundation.

A Dec. 28, 2016, a Daily Mail story on Facebook’s efforts to curtail the spread of fake news on the platform also made reference to Hoaxy.

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