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Dec 23, 2016 07:40 AM EST

Indiana University Researchers Develop New Fake News Awareness Tool

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Researchers at Indiana University were able to develop a new tool that will make people aware of how fake news spreads. This comes after social media sites have been used by some to share inaccurate reports, which affects how society responds to current issues.

Reuters reported that this new tool will focus on showing how fake news and unverified stories spread through social media. "Hoaxy" is part of efforts to fight the rapid growth of fake news on the Internet.

The issue grew during the U.S. presidential campaign. One fake story after Election Day sparked a real-life event when an armed person fired shots into a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Filippo Menczer noted that fake news is a "very serious problem." He is the director of Indiana University's Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, which developed the tool.

While misinformation and propaganda has been used by society leaders for years, social media has made it more complicated. This is because, nowadays, information can be tailored in line with the people's opinions.

Menczer explained that social media exposes users to false information that they are most likely to believe. It was clarified that Hoaxy is not able to determine whether a story is true or not; it only shows how fake news is spread online.

The website, hoaxy.iuni.iu.edu, is free for everyone. Users can type the keywords of a story in the website and check how far it has spread as well as how it went viral.

According to Quartz, Hoaxy checks a public list of known fake news sources when a user searches for a story. It looks for matches in the headlines and bodies of published stories.

It also checks for public tweets and links to the stories. Afterwards, the tool generates a map of social media users who shared and retweeted the links. Menczer added that it's still up to users to evaluate whether a claim is authentic or not.

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