Assessing information credibility without authoritative sources

Rumors, smears and conspiracy theories can now spread quickly through email, blogs and other social media. Recipients of such messages may not question their validity. Moreover, even upon careful investigation and reflection, not everyone will agree about the validity of particular claims. This project examined ways to make it easier for people to determine if the information they are reading is credible or not.

Start date: 7/1/2010
End date: 6/30/2013

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This project researched and developed tools to assist people in making personal assessments of credibility. Rather than relying on particular sources as authoritative arbiters of ground truth, the goal was to minimize the amount of "social implausibility.” The tools identify assertions that are disbelieved by "similar" people (those who, after careful consideration, someone tended to agree with in the past) or come from sources that someone has tended to disagree with.

A text mining system for online media was developed to extract controversial assertions and the beliefs expressed by users about those assertions. Comparisons of beliefs about common assertions, and retractions or updates to beliefs, were tracked as part of personalized reputation measures.

This work was the first attempt to formally address the automatic assessment of information credibility based on text mining and social computational systems. The techniques applied throughout the course of this research will provide the solution to many challenging problems in information retrieval and reputation networks. The techniques are broadly applicable to other domains where the credibility of content and reputation of sources is a concern, to help a broad class of information consumers. 

This project received an additional $16,000 through a National Science Foundation REU Supplement to support the work of undergraduate students.

For more information, please visit Qiaozhu Mei’s Foreseer Group website here.


SoCS: Assessing Information Credibility Without Authoritative Sources, National Science Foundation: $765,994

REU Supplement: Assessing Information Credibility Without Authoritative Sources, National Science Foundation: $16,000


The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…"