A multi-layer approach to disinformation detection in US and Italian news spreading on Twitter
Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy
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Accepted: 12 November 2020
Published online: 23 November 2020
We tackle the problem of classifying news articles pertaining to disinformation vs mainstream news by solely inspecting their diffusion mechanisms on Twitter. This approach is inherently simple compared to existing text-based approaches, as it allows to by-pass the multiple levels of complexity which are found in news content (e.g. grammar, syntax, style). As we employ a multi-layer representation of Twitter diffusion networks where each layer describes one single type of interaction (tweet, retweet, mention, etc.), we quantify the advantage of separating the layers with respect to an aggregated approach and assess the impact of each layer on the classification. Experimental results with two large-scale datasets, corresponding to diffusion cascades of news shared respectively in the United States and Italy, show that a simple Logistic Regression model is able to classify disinformation vs mainstream networks with high accuracy (AUROC up to 94%). We also highlight differences in the sharing patterns of the two news domains which appear to be common in the two countries. We believe that our network-based approach provides useful insights which pave the way to the future development of a system to detect misleading and harmful information spreading on social media.
Key words: Computational social science / Disinformation / Multi-layer networks / Twitter
© The Author(s), 2020