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Research helps identify fake news

Marten Risius, Clemson University

Marten Risius is an assistant management professor who has done interesting research on how to tell the difference between fake news from real news on social media channels.

If you’re having difficulty discerning real from fake news on social media, you aren’t alone. Surveys suggest it’s a struggle for 75 percent of American adults.

Research by Christian Janze, a Ph.D. student from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and Marten Risius, an associate professor of management at Clemson, may be of help. “A lot has been written and said about fake news since the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign,” Risius said. “Our explorative study investigates how to automatically identify fake news using information immediately apparent on social media platforms.”

The study examined more than 2,000 news article posts on Facebook from left, right and mainstream media outlets during the 2016 election campaign, as well as responses from the user community. Articles were fact-checked to determine fake from real. Researchers then used 230 samples of fake news and 230 of real news and applied variables to predict those that were fake, with an 80 percent success rate. They then trained the algorithm so it could correctly detect 90 percent of the 230 fake stories.

Risius said the word count, or using all caps, exclamation marks or question marks in a post, are strong predictors of a story being fake. A person being quoted is a pretty good indicator the story is real, while if a story is shared more often with strong emotional responses, the likelihood of it being fake increases.

According to Risius, the process they used to determine authenticity is fairly simple, and he wonders why a social media outlet with a multitude of data capabilities wouldn’t flag stories they know to be fake for their users.

“Though they have many resources to determine what is real and isn’t, they may be more inclined to prefer the community engagement and public attention rather than solve an issue over what is real or fake news on their platforms,” he said.

Travelers Rest

By Keith Lee Morris

A chilling fable about a family marooned in a snowbound town whose grievous history intrudes on the dreamlike present.

The Addisons-Julia and Tonio, ten-year-old Dewey, and derelict Uncle Robbie-are driving home, cross-country, after collecting Robbie from yet another trip to rehab. When a terrifying blizzard strikes outside the town of Good Night, Idaho, they seek refuge in the town at the Travelers Rest, a formerly opulent but now crumbling and eerie hotel where the physical laws of the universe are bent.

Researchers explore economical, environmentally friendly technology

Professors Chris Cole (left) and Philip Brown.

Professors Chris Cole (left) and Philip Brown.

With key support from the Walmart Foundation and its U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, Clemson textile experts are working with the world’s most widely used fiber, polyester, to develop technologies that will make dyeing it more economical and environmentally friendly.

Chris Cole, a faculty member in materials science and engineering, has extensive experience in both textile and apparel design and fabrication, while her collaborator, Philip Brown, also a faculty member in materials science and engineering, is recognized nationally and internationally for his work in designing and extruding textile fibers.

The nearly $1 million award from the Walmart Foundation allows the research team to pursue three primary research objectives: reduce the amount of dyestuff required to color polyester; reduce the energy required to color polyester; and lower the amount of colored effluent from polyester dyeing processes. Effluent is the liquid waste remaining from the dyeing process, and as Cole has noted, “There’s a lot of dye used in dyeing polyester to be able to get the colors that we all know and love like our bright Clemson orange.”

The award was announced by the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the 2016 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. Clemson is one of five universities conducting research through this opportunity, which is focused on supporting research that strives to create new manufacturing technologies and to reduce the cost of producing goods in the U.S. with the ultimate goal of creating jobs that support America’s growing manufacturing base. Clemson’s award is supporting 2½ years of research.

Within Clemson’s Olin Hall is a unique machine that has enabled the research team to design a polyester fiber that will dye more easily. “The funding provided by the Walmart Foundation has allowed me to build this machine — something that has never been done before — and it’s phenomenal,” said Brown. “There’s only one in the world.” Researchers in the industry have attempted to dye polyester using copolymers, but due to fiber manufacturing technology limitations, they typically used a single polymer. This technology also suffered a very poor wash fastness unlike the technology Brown and his researchers have developed. “We might dye a fabric a brilliant orange, but after it was laundered a few times you could see the color was starting to fade with these other polymers,” said Cole. “Because of Dr. Brown’s expertise and the facilities we have at Clemson, we can now build fibers where we can take advantage of being able to get the dye in quickly with intense colors and excellent dye pickup by the fibers. We’re not leaving as much dye behind at the end of the cycle, but at the same time we’re going to be able to get the wash fastness and the light fastness that the commercial market requires.”

Materials science and engineering makes it a priority to get students involved in projects that provide them with hands-on research experience. “By being part of a major research project, students can see the techniques that we use, how to design a large project, how to build a team effectively for a large project and the communication skills you have to have,” said Cole. Another benefit is that students are introduced to the manufacturers who are their potential employers. With another award from the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund announced this year, these two researchers are optimistic about expanding their research program to look at how they might develop polyester fibers that achieve a high level of water and oil repellency at lower economic and environmental cost.

Thin Ice

Assistant Professor of Art Todd Anderson is a printmaker, skilled at transferring beauty and wonder from landscapes onto paper. His most recent project, The Last Glacier, involved hiking more than 500 miles through Glacier National Park over the last six years.