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April fool japes could hint at identifying 'fake news'

ANI | Updated: Mar 31, 2019 13:30 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar 31 (ANI): Now April Fool’s day hoax stories could bring out hints to spot ‘fake news, new research reveals.
The research has been outlined in the paper 'Fool's Errand: Looking at April Fools Hoaxes as Disinformation through the Lens of Deception and Humour.’
Academic experts in Natural Language Processing from Lancaster University have compared the language used in April fool japes to that of fake news stories.
Much to their amusement, they found alikeness in the writ form of April fool japes and baleful fake stories.
"April Fools hoaxes are very useful because they provide us with a verifiable body of deceptive texts that give us an opportunity to find out about the linguistic techniques used when an author writes something fictitious disguised as a factual account,” said Edward, lead-author of the research.
He further added, “By looking at the language used in April Fools and comparing them with fake news stories we can get a better picture of the kinds of language used by authors of disinformation."
For the study, they amassed a novel dataset of more than 500 April fool articles from over 370 websites written over 14 years.
The focus was on certain features in the text, like the number of details used, vagueness, formality, and complexity of language.
Although, all the features didn’t come out to match, but a number of characteristics were found to be the same across both.  
Proper nouns, like names of politicians, were more in fake news than in April fool hoax. Meanwhile, the use of first-person pronouns like ‘we’ turned out to be a significant feature in both.
Dr. Alistair Baron, co-author of the paper, said: "Looking at details and complexities within a text are crucial when trying to determine if an article is a hoax. Although there are many differences, our results suggest that April Fools and fake news articles share some similar features, mostly involving structural complexity.” (ANI)