Fool's Gold: Understanding the Linguistic Features of Deception and Humour Through April Fools' Hoaxes

Ed Dearden

SCC, Lancaster University

Every year on April 1st, people play practical jokes on one another and news websites fabricate false stories with the goal of making fools of their audience. In an age of disinformation, with Facebook under fire for allowing "Fake News" to spread on their platform, every day can feel like April Fools' day. We create a dataset of April Fools' hoax news articles and build a set of features based on past research examining deception, humour, and satire. Analysis of our dataset and features suggests that looking at the structural complexity and levels of detail in a text are the most important types of feature in characterising April Fools'. We propose that these features are also very useful for understanding Fake News, and disinformation more widely.

Week 7 2018/2019

Thursday 22nd November 2018

Fylde LT 1