False information travels 6 times faster than the truth on Twitter

False information travels 6 times faster than the truth on Twitter

False information travels 6 times faster than the truth on Twitter

Researchers say it's humans spreading the bogus stories.

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with.

Surprisingly, news categorized as false or fake was 70 percent more likely than true news to receive a retweet.

The team members concluded: "Understanding how false news spreads is the first step toward containing it". Their findings, published this week in Science, explain a lot about how conspiracy theories (as well as misleading and downright incorrect information) drown out hard, clear facts on social media. Between 1,000 and 100,000 Twitter users, real news stories only reached about 1,000, or 1 percent.

Before we proceed, let's pause for a moment to define our terms. They call for an interdisciplinary research effort that involves various social media platforms, and for society at large to work to create a news ecosystem and culture that values and promotes truth.

You can read the full, very informative, article here.

While the political repercussions of fake news are quite obvious, the phenomenon has affected various other discussions.

Not Twitter, apparently, according to one company executive who recently testified before British officials that "we are not the arbiters of truth". "It was false news". Twitter, however, remained a breeding pool for false information.

"Twitter became our main source of news", Mr Vosoughi said.

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Why did the false rumor cascades spread faster? The team also measured the "depth" of a cascade, which they described as "the number of retweet hops from the origin tweet over time, where a hop is a retweet by a new unique user". It looked at 126,000 stories that had been tweeted by roughly 3 million people. Vosoughi doesn't think censorship of incorrect information is the answer. The more a rumor spreads, the more all four of these factors increase.

Prior to this study, scientific studies of the spread of false news were limited to case studies of the diffusion of single stories or analyses of small, ad hoc samples.

Rumor cascades based on true news "rarely" spread to more than 1,000 people.

We could also benefit from randomized controlled trials of efforts to dampen the spread of false stories. And they elicited different emotional reactions, with people expressing greater surprise and disgust. Also, the time it took for a true rumor cascade to reach a depth of 10 was almost 10 times longer than the time it took for a false rumor cascade to reach a depth of 19.

The researchers also note fake news can extend beyond the political sphere, potentially reaching issues not typically regarded as political, including public health topics, vaccinations, the stock market and nutrition.

The researchers, which included former Twitter chief media scientist Deb Roy, used six fact-checking organizations to determine whether stories were true or false.

However, even if a one-size-fits all solution exists, the study makes it clear that the human propensity for salacious gossip will hinder any efforts to combat misinformation.

Indeed, researchers tested this claim by assessing the novelty of certain tweets, and then analyzed the sentiment of subsequent replies.

"I was somewhat surprised to see bots didn't play a starring role", Roy said. The situation may seem bleak, but there's nothing to gain by ignoring it.

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