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Wellesley College Researchers Seek the Truth via Twitter Trails

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Part of a propagation graph showing written when the story broke of a young girl who shot a gun instructor.

A newly developed tool examines the truth (or lack of it) related to stories that propagate on Twitter.

Credit: Twitter Trails Project

Researchers at Wellesley College in Massachusetts have developed a tool that examines how true and false stories propagate on Twitter.

Dubbed Twitter Trails, the research project makes use of algorithms and visualizations to track tweets. The tool also is designed to track key words and phrases to show how various themes of a story live on after the initial news breaks.

The researchers followed the real story of a young girl who accidentally shot a gun instructor with an Uzi. Verified Twitter sources propagated accounts more strongly than conspiracy theorists who tried to make it appear untrue. The tool also helped show that stories about Netflix going bankrupt and recharging iPhones in microwave ovens were false.

The team's research paper, "TRAILS: A System for Monitoring the Propagation of Rumors on Twitter," discusses the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded Social Informatics Lab project in greater detail, and addresses how social media can be used to predict election results.

The researchers note the tool could be beneficial to journalists.

From Network World
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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