MIDS Capstone Project Fall 2018

RealityCheck: Choose Your News!

Reality Check provides real-time news aggregation enabling consumers to receive and check credibility of stories before sharing news.

Fake News continues to be a big problem for our society. New information is difficult to fact check, often taking days. This leaves ample time for fake or misleading information to gain traction on social media sites, influence conversations and divide us further. Consumers and businesses both lose when this happens. Consumers accept misinformation as fact and lose personal credibility by sharing information that is later understood to be false. Media Buyers place ads in questionable content. Journalists may even pick up these stories, furthering the impact.

This project is unique because we also consider the structure of author networks. Authors have a long history of credibility and a vested interest to protect it. Legitimate authors write often, share bylines with other credible authors and put their names on their articles. Credible authors did not likely establish their Twitter account yesterday.

RealityCheck’s scores are based on a hybrid approach. Transformer networks are initially used to classify articles into ten distinct categories (journalism, clickbait, hate, fake, etc.), achieving 92% accuracy. Authors and domain analysis are then accounted for in the unified score. Consumers are also given the opportunity to provide feedback on an article’s score, which helps refine the model over time. By eliciting granular feedback - instead of a general thumbs up/thumbs down, we allow ourselves the opportunity later to identify and remove fraudulent scores, where a consumer is simply trying to damage a particular publication or author.

RealityCheck is a significant step forward and invaluable tool to help solve the problem of fake news. It holds sources accountable for the quality of content that is published. It gives consumers more confidence in what they read and share, in a non-confrontational environment. Additionally, a series of insightful dashboards will help media buyers assess the quality of the environments in which they advertise.

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Last updated: October 1, 2019