Real or Not? Identifying Untrustworthy News Websites using Third-Party Partnerships

ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems, 2020

Posted: 16 Jun 2020

See all articles by Ram Gopal

Ram Gopal

University of Warwick

Hooman Hidaji

University of Calgary - Haskayne School of Business

Sule Nur Kutlu

University of Connecticut - Department of Operations & Information Management

Raymond Patterson

Independent

Erik Rolland

Ohio State University

Dmitry Zhdanov

Georgia State University - J. Mack Robinson College of Business

Date Written: May 21, 2020

Abstract

Untrustworthy content such as fake news and clickbait have become a pervasive problem on the Internet, causing significant socio-political problems around the world. Identifying untrustworthy content is a crucial step in countering them. The current best-practices for identification involve content analysis and arduous fact-checking of the content. To complement content analysis, we propose examining websites’ third-parties to identify their trustworthiness. Websites utilize third-parties, also known as their digital supply chains, to create and present content and help the website function. Third-parties are an important indication of a website’s business model. Similar websites exhibit similarities in the third-parties they use. Using this perspective, we use machine learning and heuristic methods to discern similarities and dissimilarities in third-party usage, which we use to predict trustworthiness of websites. We demonstrate the effectiveness and robustness of our approach in predicting trustworthiness of websites from a database of News, Fake News, and Clickbait websites. Our approach can be easily and cost-effectively implemented to reinforce current identification methods.

Keywords: website third-parties, untrustworthy websites, prediction, machine learning, heuristics

Suggested Citation

Gopal, Ram and Hidaji, Hooman and Kutlu, Sule Nur and Patterson, Raymond and Rolland, Erik and Zhdanov, Dmitry, Real or Not? Identifying Untrustworthy News Websites using Third-Party Partnerships (May 21, 2020). ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3607405

Ram Gopal

University of Warwick ( email )

West Midlands, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Hooman Hidaji (Contact Author)

University of Calgary - Haskayne School of Business ( email )

2500 University Drive, NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://haskayne.ucalgary.ca/haskayne_info/profiles/hooman-hidaji

Sule Nur Kutlu

University of Connecticut - Department of Operations & Information Management ( email )

368 Fairfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-2041
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.business.uconn.edu/person/sule-nur-kutlu/

Raymond Patterson

Independent

Erik Rolland

Ohio State University ( email )

2100 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-292-7692 (Phone)
614-292-2118 (Fax)

Dmitry Zhdanov

Georgia State University - J. Mack Robinson College of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 4015
Atlanta, GA 30302-4015
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://robinson.gsu.edu/profile/dmitry-zhdanov/

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