Hoaxy: A Platform for Tracking Online Misinformation

Shao, Chengcheng; Ciampaglia, Giovanni Luca; Flammini, Alessandro; Menczer, Filippo

Massive amounts of misinformation have been observed to spread in uncontrolled fashion across social media. Examples include rumors, hoaxes, fake news, and conspiracy theories. At the same time, several journalistic organizations devote significant efforts to high-quality fact checking of online claims. The resulting information cascades contain instances of both accurate and inaccurate information, unfold over multiple time scales, and often reach audiences of considerable size. All these factors pose challenges for the study of the social dynamics of online news sharing. Here we introduce Hoaxy, a platform for the collection, detection, and analysis of online misinformation and its related fact-checking efforts. We discuss the design of the platform and present a preliminary analysis of a sample of public tweets containing both fake news and fact checking. We find that, in the aggregate, the sharing of fact-checking content typically lags that of misinformation by 10-20 hours. Moreover, fake news are dominated by very active users, while fact checking is a more grass-roots activity. With the increasing risks connected to massive online misinformation, social news observatories have the potential to help researchers, journalists, and the general public understand the dynamics of real and fake news sharing.