Congratulations to Dimitar Nikolov, who successfully defended his PhD dissertation on Information Exposure Biases in Online Behaviors. Dr. Nikolov’s research explored the unintentional biases introduced by filtering, ranking, and recommendation algorithms that mediate our online consumption of information. His findings show that our reliance on modern online technologies limits exposure to diverse points of view and makes us vulnerable to misinformation. In particular, he analyzed two massive Web traffic datasets to quantify the popularity and homogeneity bias of several popular online platforms including social media, email, personalized news, and search engines. He also leveraged Twitter data to characterize the link between political partisanship and vulnerability to online pollution, such as fake news, conspiracy theories, and junk science. His dissertation contributes to the field of computational social science by putting the study of bias in information consumption and derived phenomena like political polarization, echo chambers, and online pollution on a more firm quantitative foundation.
Filippo Menczer, a professor of computer science and informatics at CNetS, appeared on a panel of experts to discuss the emergence and dissemination of misinformation, and how it threatens society at the annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., Feb. 15.
Menczer was a part of a three-person panel and presented a talk, “Eight Ways Social Media Makes Society Vulnerable to Misinformation.” The talk provided an overview of ongoing network analytics, modeling, and machine learning efforts to study the viral spread of misinformation and to develop tools for countering the online manipulation of opinions. Menczer has previously developed systems such as Botometer, which detects social media bots, and Hoaxy, which maps the diffusion of low-credibility content.Continue reading CNeTS researcher provides expertise on misinformation battle at AAAS conference
Onur Varol, a postdoctoral research associate at Northeastern University who earned his Ph.D. in Informatics from CNetS, has been honored with the University Distinguished Ph.D. Dissertation Award for 2018, which is the highest honor for research Indiana University bestows on its graduate students. “I am extremely happy to receive this award,” Varol said. “I would like to especially thank my advisor, Filippo Menczer, and the Informatics department for nominating me. I was lucky to be surrounded by the best advisors, collaborators, and research group I could imagine during my doctoral studies, and I am a proud IU alumni and a Hoosier.” Varol’s dissertation, “Analyzing Social Big Data to Study Online Discourse and Its Manipulation,” provided insights into analysis of online conversations and mechanisms used for their manipulation. Varol built machine learning frameworks like Botometer to detect social bots. More…
The spread of fake news is no game, but to recent CNetS graduate Mihai Avram, a game just might be the solution. As a graduate student in CNetS, Avram developed a mobile app called Fakey to help combat the spread of fake news on social media. It is available to download for both Android and iOS. The news literacy game places users in a simulated social media environment where they can share, “like” or fact-check articles. Users are given feedback for their actions and earn points if they share stories from legitimate news sources, or if they fact-check articles from low-credibility sources. More…
Researchers at CNetS, IUNI, and the Indiana University Observatory on Social Media have launched upgrades to two tools playing a major role in countering the spread of misinformation online: Hoaxy and Botometer. A third tool Fakey — an educational game designed to make people smarter news consumers — also launches with the upgrades. Continue reading 3 new tools to study and counter online disinformation
The indictment of 13 Russians in the operation of a “troll farm” that spread false information related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election has renewed the spotlight on the power of “fake news” to influence public opinion. Now, an Indiana University faculty member who studies the spread of misinformation online is joining prominent legal scholars, social scientists and researchers in a global “call to action” in the fight against it. Filippo Menczer, a professor in CNetS and the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, is a co-author of a paper published March 8 in the journal Science that calls for a coordinated investigation into the underlying social, psychological and technological forces behind fake news. This is necessary to counteract the phenomenon’s negative influence on society, the authors said. READ MORE
Thanks to support from the Indiana University Network Science Institute (IUNI) and Digital Science Center (DSC), the full content of the Twitter data repository from the Observatory on Social Media (OSoMe) is now available to all IU researchers. Many tools to detect social bots, study the spread of fake news, visualize meme diffusion networks, trends, and maps, as well as APIs to access this data, have been available to the general public since mid-2016. Now, however, the IU research community can access enhanced data and content from the large collection, based on a 10% sample of all public tweets. A dedicated portal allows IU faculty and students to submit queries to the OSoMe cluster based on hashtags, URLs, keywords, geo-coordinates, and other criteria. At any time the system can search and retrieve data from the previous 18 months. We hope this resource will spur and support new research projects in all areas of computing, natural, and social sciences. Click here to read how to get access and learn more about the data, or attend our Open Science Forum!
Fil Menczer, professor of computer science and informatics at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, is part of a group that has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to study how and at what rate information spreads in a global information environment. The project, COSINE: Cognitive Online Simulation of Information Network Environments, also involves Professor of Informatics Alessandro Flammini and Assistant Professor of Informatics and Computing YY Ahn. The project is in collaboration with colleagues at the USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI) and the University of Notre Dame. Read more…
A project from NaN and IUNI was among 20 selected (out of over 800 applications) to address the spread of misinformation with support from the Knight Prototype Fund. Led by Fil Menczer, Giovanni Ciampaglia, Alessandro Flammini and Val Pentchev, the project will integrate the Hoaxy and Botometer tools and uncover attempts to use Internet bots to boost the spread of misinformation and shape public opinion. The tool aims to reveal how this information is generated and broadcasted, how it becomes viral, its overall reach, and how it competes with accurate information for placement on user feeds. The project will be supported by the Democracy Fund, which in March, along with partners Knight Foundation and Rita Allen Foundation, launched an open call for ideas around the question: How might we improve the flow of accurate information? The call sought projects that could be quickly built to respond to the challenges affecting the health of our news ecosystem and ultimately our democracy. The winning projects will receive a share of $1 million through the Knight Prototype Fund, a program focused on human-centered approaches to solving difficult problems.