1 University of Patras (GREECE)
2 University of Patras & CTI Diophantus (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN23 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 559-568
ISBN: 978-84-09-52151-7
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2023.0238
Conference name: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2023
Location: Palma, Spain
Checking whether news reported via social media or the press is truly valid has recently emerged as a tantalizing issue in our society. Despite the existence of various agencies claiming to perform fact checking, important skepticism has arisen regarding the result credibility which may indeed be downgraded or biased due to several factors including financial, political or personal incentives or also incomplete, sloppy processes or lack of appropriate sources.

Motivated by this observation as well as the fact that the internet and the web can provide an excellent source of crowd intelligence for efficiently collecting/mining data, we present "Check It Yourself", an online application which is essentially a crowdsourcing system and decision-making mechanism based on social choice, while exploiting visualization techniques for enabling users to perform on-the-fly news validity checking.

Social Choice Theory (SCT) - and especially Voting Theory - addresses how to interpret the will of people and bring out a satisfying collective decision based on elections in democratic societies, where all citizens have an equal say in the decisions. SCT provides a set of methods for the aggregation of a set of individual preferences into a collective preference or decision. Such methods include collecting data using different kind of polls, which actually work as ranked, approval (e.g., y/n questions) and cardinal (e.g., rating/score questions) voting systems.

"Check It Yourself" allows registered users to create such polls for specific issues/questions and ask other users, located geographically close to the news source, to confirm or doubt/challenge its truthfulness. The answers are in the form of preferences/votes which are collected, analyzed, aggregated, and visualized so that users are provided with quantitative and qualitative information. Furthermore, live feedback and live updates are automatically provided for new polls and newly submitted votes.

For visualization purposes, we deployed Information Visualization (InfoVis) techniques for designing visual representations of abstract data to help users increase their knowledge about the internal structure of data and the causal relationships between them. In addition, all generated visualizations together with the corresponding data files are fully downloadable so that interested users can save them locally and further process them.

"Check It Yourself" is a lightweight and responsive application with an easy-to-use, friendly graphical interface. It does not require installation nor advanced skills to use. It has been developed using mainly javascript (frontend) and php (backend) as well as additional packages, including chart.js and leaflet.js, for the visualization of voting results and ipinfo.api for geolocation.

Apart from its broader potential usefulness, "Check It Yourself" can be of particular interest in education since it can contribute to young people (i.e., pupils, students) cultivating the mentality of researching instead of believing, increasing their critical thinking and actively developing and practicing aspects of democracy.
News validity check, crowdsourcing, Social Choice Theory, Voting Theory, collective decision making, democracy, InfoVis, online, responsive, javascript, php.