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…
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
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.
Congratulations to Onur Varol for successfully defending his dissertation entitled “Analyzing Social Big Data to Study Online Discourse and its Manipulation” on April 25th 2017, supervised by Filippo Menczer. Onur completed a PhD degree in the Complex Systems track of the Informatics PhD Program. Onur has accepted a postdoctoral position at Northeastern University at the Center for Complex Network Research.
Update: workshop report available (AI Magazine Spring 2018 | DOI:10.1609/aimag.v39i1.2783 | Preprint)
The deluge of online and offline misinformation is overloading the exchange of ideas upon which democracies depend. Many have argued that echo chambers are increasingly constricting the ability of alternative perspectives to provide a check on one’s viewpoints. Suffering fragmentation and declining public trust, the Fourth Estate struggles to carry out its traditional editorial role distinguishing facts from fiction. Without those safeguards, fake news, conspiracy theories, and deceptive social bots proliferate, facilitating the manipulation of public opinion. Countering misinformation while protecting freedom of speech will require collaboration between stakeholders across industry, journalism, and academia. To foster such collaboration, the Workshop on Digital Misinformation will be held in conjunction with the 2017 International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM) in Montreal, on May 15, 2017. Continue reading ICWSM 2017 Workshop on Digital Misinformation
If you get your news from social media, as most Americans do, you are exposed to a daily dose of hoaxes, rumors, conspiracy theories and misleading news. When it’s all mixed in with reliable information from honest sources, the truth can be very hard to discern.
Among the millions of real people tweeting about the presidential race, there are also a lot accounts operated by fake people, or “bots.” Politicians and regular users alike use these accounts to increase their follower bases and push messages. PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports on how CNetS computer scientists can analyze Twitter handles to determine whether or not they are bots.
Research on detection of social bots by CNetS faculty members Alessandro Flammini and Filippo Menczer, former IUNI research scientist Emilio Ferrara, and graduate students Clayton Davis, Onur Varol, and Prashant Shiralkar was featured on the covers of the two top computing venues: the June issue of Computer (flagship magazine of the IEEE Computer Society) and the July issue of Communications of the ACM (flagship publication of the ACM). Continue reading Social bot research featured on CACM, IEEE Computer covers
Congratulations to Clayton Davis, who won the best presenter prize at WWW 2016 Developers Day! Clayton presented BotOrNot: A system to evaluate social bots, a paper coauthored with Onur Varol, Emilio Ferrara, Alessandro Flammini and Filippo Menczer, that describes our latest API developments with the BotOrNot system.
The CNetS poster “The Rise of Social Bots in Online Social Networks” by Emilio Ferrara, Onur Varol, Prashant Shiralkar, Clayton Davis, Filippo Menczer, and Alessandro Flammini won a Best Poster Award at CCS 2015. The poster was presented by Clayton Davis. The results will also appear in the paper “The Rise of Social Bots” to be published in Comm. ACM (in press, preprint).
The paper “Modularity and the Spread of Perturbations in Complex Dynamical Systems” by Artemy Kolchinsky, Alexander J. Gates and Luis M. Rocha, and the poster “Information Theoretic Structures of the French Revolution” by Alexander Barron, Simon DeDeo and Rebecca Spang won additional awards.
Finally, our former postdoctoral scientist Bruno Gonçalves (now tenured faculty member at Aix-Marseille Université) received a Junior Scientist Award from the Complex Systems Society for his contributions to the study of human social behavior from large-scale online attention and behavioral data. This is the second Junior Scientist Award for CNetS (the first was won by Filippo Radicchi).
Congratulations to the CNetS team!