Hoaxy: Twitter bot-spotter tracks spread of dodgy news

Weblog: Web tool was created to show how social media systems can be manipulated

Researchers at the Indiana University Observatory on Social Media have recently updated their web tool developed to spot dodgy news on Twitter and track how it spreads through the network. Hoaxy is a search engine that tracks URLs, phrases or Twitter accounts to create a visualisation of a story's virality while tagging accounts that seem suspiciously like bots – although it can be used to track the spread of any story or see what kind of retweet network any account has.

The idea is that if a story’s factual basis seems a little shaky yet has spread far and fast over Twitter, a deeper look on Hoaxy will determine if bots were the reason for its success.

Hoaxy was created to help the general public, journalists, and policy makers understand how information spreads across social media and how these systems can be manipulated, explains Filippo Menczer, a professor at Indiana University School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering.