Anatomy of an Online Misinformation Network

inform misleadMassive amounts of fake news and conspiratorial content have spread over social media before and after the 2016 US Presidential Elections despite intense fact-checking efforts. How do the spread of misinformation and fact-checking compete? What are the structural and dynamic characteristics of the core of the misinformation diffusion network, and who are its main purveyors? How to reduce the overall amount of misinformation?

To explore these questions we built Hoaxy, an open platform that enables large-scale, systematic studies of how misinformation and fact-checking spread and compete on Twitter. Hoaxy captures public tweets that include links to articles from low-credibility and fact-checking sources. We perform k-core decomposition on a diffusion network obtained from two million retweets produced by several hundred thousand accounts over the six months before the election

As we move from the periphery to the core of the network, fact-checking nearly disappears, while social bots proliferate. The number of users in the main core reaches equilibrium around the time of the election, with limited churn and increasingly dense connections. We conclude by quantifying how effectively the network can be disrupted by penalizing the most central nodes. These findings provide a first look at the anatomy of a massive online misinformation diffusion network.

Google’s Idea To Reduce Tech Addiction

tech addictionResearch indicates that smart phones are making us unhappy. Google recently revealed that 70% of its users actually want help balancing their digital lives. What can smartphone manufacturers of the world do about it? After all, it’s in their business interests to make their phones as engaging–or addictive–as possible.

For now, Google’s upcoming Android P operating system is introducing three great features to help us break–or at least, better manage–our screen addictions.

Science and Emotion are Inseparable

science emotion brainScience is an endeavour that draws on all of our uniquely human abilities. The need of science appeals to and is guided by common values. Therefore, it needs feelings and imagination as much as observation, analysis and logic. However, here’s a view of science you might recognise as common, or at least see promoted:

“Science is a purely objective pursuit. Words like 'fact', 'proof', 'evidence' and 'natural law' are the marks of the scientific method. This approach has no place for emotion, or any subjective aspects. Save it for the arts!”

Obama Strategy Against Killer Asteroids

Asteroids

In a newly released strategy, the United States has proposed an increased global effort to locate 300,000 or so Earth-impact risks and prepare for potential future meteor collisions that could destroy cities, civilization, or all life as we know it. Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are defined as asteroids or comets that come near our planet’s orbit. A newly published White House document entitled ‘National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy’ details how low-probability, high consequence impacts pose a “significant and complex challenge”.

Awe Shapes Views of Science

aweIn general, we feel awe when in the presence of something that is so big, beautiful, powerful or complex that it is hard to wrap our heads around (e.g. gazing at the stars and contemplating the vastness of the universe, witnessing the destructive force of a natural disaster). We feel it when we are struck dumb by the presence of the mysterious, magical, wondrous or beautiful and its experience drives us to seek explanations. Something has not only defied our expectations about how the world works, but it has made us want to understand, explain and find meaning in what has happened.

Time Management is Ruining Our Lives

rushrushMost of us have experienced this creeping sense of being overwhelmed: the feeling not merely that our lives are full of activity – that can be exhilarating – but that time is slipping out of our control. The quest for increased personal productivity – for making the best possible use of your limited time – is a dominant motif of our age. And yet the truth is that more often than not, techniques designed to enhance one’s personal productivity seem to exacerbate the very anxieties they were meant to allay. The better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have. It’s understandable that we respond to the ratcheting demands of modern life by trying to make ourselves more efficient. But what if all this efficiency just makes things worse?

Therapeutic Pathway to Treat Alcoholism

digitalworldbrainA liver hormone called FGF21 may regulate alcohol drinking by acting directly on a receptor in the brain, according to a new study. This raises the possibility of a new therapeutic pathway that could one day be targeted to reduce the desire for alcohol in problem drinkers. The new study, by researchers from Imperial College London, King’s College London, and UT Southwestern Medical Center, for the first time highlights a liver-brain axis which plays an important role in regulating the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol drinking is a complex trait that is known to be partly inherited, yet so far there have been few genes associated with it.

President Obama Prepares Nation for Solar Flares

PotusSealA large enough solar flare could knock out electrical grids we have come to rely on for day-to-day life. On 13 October 2016, President Barack Obama issued an executive order aimed at preparing the nation's infrastructure for "extreme space weather events" that could potentially be powerful enough to wreak havoc on essential electrical grids.

Doctor Can Stop Heart Attacks

hearthealthWhen Dr. Harry Selker was working as a cardiologist in the 1970s, clot-busting drugs were showing great promise against heart attacks. One medical treatment Selker is researching is a cocktail of glucose, insulin and potassium, known by its chemical initials GIK. More than 50 years ago, studies with baboons and rabbits indicated that GIK appeared to actually prevent heart attacks. The simple concoction protected heart muscles against damage. Selker says: "So it was very encouraging. It was extraordinary, really."

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Pragmatic Journey is Richard (rich) Wermske's life of recovery; a spiritual journey inspired by Buddhism, a career in technology and management with linux, digital security, bpm, and paralegal stuff; augmented with gaming, literature, philosophy, art and music; and compassionate kinship with all things living -- especially cats; and people with whom I share no common language.