Detecting Misinformation Flows in Social Media Spaces During Crisis Events

Datalab Faculty

Emma Spiro


Kate Starbird

Robert Mason

Project Description

This research seeks both to understand the patterns and mechanisms of the diffusion of misinformation on social media and to develop algorithms to automatically detect misinformation as events unfold. During natural disasters and other hazard events, individuals increasingly utilize social media to disseminate, search for and curate event-related information. There is great potential for this information to be used by affected communities and emergency responders to enhance situational awareness and improve decision-making, facilitating response activities and potentially saving lives. Yet several challenges remain; one is the generation and propagation of misinformation. Taking a novel and transformative approach, this project aims to utilize the collective intelligence of the crowd – the crowdwork of some social media users who challenge and correct questionable information – to distinguish misinformation and aid in its detection.


Starbird, Emma S. Spiro, Arif, Chou, Narasimhan, Maddock, Shanahan and Robinson. (2015) “Expressed Uncertainty and Denials as Signals of Online Rumoring.” Collective Intelligence Conference. Santa Clara, California.