Explaining Website Reliability by Visualizing Hyperlink Connectivity

crown jewel figure
MisVis helps users assess a website’s reliability and understand how the site may be involved in spreading false information by visualizing its hyperlink connectivity. When a user visits a website, MisVis is displayed interstitially over the website, blurring its contents and blocking user interactions. The MisVis user interface consists of (A) a Header message about the reliability of the website being visited by the user, (B) brief Explanation about how to interpret the MisVis visualization, and (C) the Main Window that visualizes the connectivity of the visited website in two coordinated views: Graph View and Summary View. (1) The Graph View shows how the website connects to other websites via hyperlinks. Dots are websites, and edges are hyperlinks; the site being visited is shown in the middle. MisVis visualizes the information flow among sites through animation. (2) The Summary View shows the site’s overall reliability by summarizing the reliability of its connected sites. In both views, controversial sites are shown in orange, verified in purple, and unlabeled in gray.
As the information on the Internet continues growing exponentially, understanding and assessing the reliability of a website is becoming increasingly important. Misinformation has far-ranging repercussions, from sowing mistrust in media to undermining democratic elections. While some research investigates how to alert people to misinformation on the web, much less research has been conducted on explaining how websites engage in spreading false information. To fill the research gap, we present MisVis, a web-based interactive visualization tool that helps users assess a website’s reliability by understanding how it engages in spreading false information on the World Wide Web. MisVis visualizes the hyperlink connectivity of the website and summarizes key characteristics of the Twitter accounts that mention the site. A large-scale user study with 139 participants demonstrates that MisVis facilitates users to assess and understand false information on the web and node-link diagrams can be used to communicate with non-experts. MisVis is available at the public demo link: https://poloclub.github.io/MisVis.
Explaining Website Reliability by Visualizing Hyperlink Connectivity
  title = {Explaining {{Website Reliability}} by {{Visualizing Hyperlink Connectivity}}},
  author = {Lee, Seongmin and Afroz, Sadia and Park, Haekyu and Wang, Zijie J and Shaikh, Omar and Sehgal, Vibhor and Peshin, Ankit and Horng, Duen},
  year = {2022},
  journal = {2022 IEEE Visualization Conference (VIS)},
  langid = {english}