An Exploration of Verbatim Content Republishing by News Producers

05/15/2018 ∙ by Benjamin D. Horne, et al. ∙ 0

In today's news ecosystem, news sources emerge frequently and can vary widely in intent. This intent can range from benign to malicious, with many tactics being used to achieve their goals. One lesser studied tactic is content republishing, which can be used to make specific stories seem more important, create uncertainty around an event, or create a perception of credibility for unreliable news sources. In this paper, we take a first step in understanding this tactic by exploring verbatim content copying across 92 news producers of various characteristics. We find that content copying occurs more frequently between like-audience sources (eg. alternative news, mainstream news, etc.), but there consistently exists sparse connections between these communities. We also find that despite articles being verbatim, the headlines are often changed. Specifically, we find that mainstream sources change more structural features, while alternative sources change many more content features, often changing the emotional tone and bias of the titles. We conclude that content republishing networks can help identify and label the intent of brand-new news sources using the tight-knit community they belong to. In addition, it is possible to use the network to find important content producers in each community, producers that are used to amplify messages of other sources, and producers that distort the messages of other sources.

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