The rise of disinformation in the last years has shed light on the presence of bad actors that produce and spread misleading content every day. Therefore, looking at the characteristics of these actors has become crucial for gaining better knowledge of the phenomenon of disinformation to fight it. This study seeks to understand how these actors, meant here as unreliable news websites, differ from reliable ones. With this aim, we investigated some well-known fake and reliable news sources and their relationships, using a network growth model based on the overlap of their audience. Then, we peered into the news sites’ sub-networks and their structure, finding that unreliable news sources’ sub-networks are overall disassortative and have a low–medium clustering coefficient, indicative of a higher fragmentation. The k-core decomposition allowed us to find the coreness value for each node in the network, identifying the most connectedness site communities and revealing the structural organization of the network, where the unreliable websites tend to populate the inner shells. By analyzing WHOIS information, it also emerged that unreliable websites generally have a newer registration date and shorter-term registrations compared to reliable websites. The results on the political leaning of the news sources show extremist news sources of any political leaning are generally mostly responsible for producing and spreading disinformation.

Investigating Fake and Reliable News Sources Using Complex Networks Analysis

Valeria Mazzeo
;
Andrea Rapisarda
2022

Abstract

The rise of disinformation in the last years has shed light on the presence of bad actors that produce and spread misleading content every day. Therefore, looking at the characteristics of these actors has become crucial for gaining better knowledge of the phenomenon of disinformation to fight it. This study seeks to understand how these actors, meant here as unreliable news websites, differ from reliable ones. With this aim, we investigated some well-known fake and reliable news sources and their relationships, using a network growth model based on the overlap of their audience. Then, we peered into the news sites’ sub-networks and their structure, finding that unreliable news sources’ sub-networks are overall disassortative and have a low–medium clustering coefficient, indicative of a higher fragmentation. The k-core decomposition allowed us to find the coreness value for each node in the network, identifying the most connectedness site communities and revealing the structural organization of the network, where the unreliable websites tend to populate the inner shells. By analyzing WHOIS information, it also emerged that unreliable websites generally have a newer registration date and shorter-term registrations compared to reliable websites. The results on the political leaning of the news sources show extremist news sources of any political leaning are generally mostly responsible for producing and spreading disinformation.
Fake news
Complex networks
disinformation
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/532277
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