On Twitter, False News Travels Faster and Penetrates Deeper Than the Truth

Scott Olson  GettyAn anti Trump protester references the president’s love of the phrase ‘Fake news

Scott Olson GettyAn anti Trump protester references the president’s love of the phrase ‘Fake news

But social media has unleashed a new outbreak of propaganda, even if ordinary people are-or human nature is-playing a role in accelerating its spread. Whereas the top one percent of false news reached to 100,000 people. Researchers found a fake story reaches 1,500 people an average of six times faster than an accurate story. On Twitter people are more likely to be exposed to a wider variety of users with different agendas, he says.

The investigators found that, overall, false stories were retweeted much more often than true stories.

False information is likely more widespread because it plays on salacious or controversial elements in ways the truth typically can not, according to the researchers.

While fake news was found in every category, from business to sports and science, false political stories, not surprisingly, were the most likely to be retweeted.

It should come as no surprise that the internet has spawned a resurgence of fake news.

It may be that the political sphere is returning to where it was a century ago, during World War I, before corporate public relations emerged and national media monopolies imposed journalistic norms of objectivity and balance, the social scientists said in Science. The study authors aimed to be apolitical in distinguishing what was true or false.

So Aral's team chose to use the term "false news" instead. According to a press release, the team points out that the platforms themselves are now complicit in spreading fake news by allowing them to appear on things like trending lists and by allowing fake news stories to game their algorithms.

Aral said that this was contrary to widespread belief that Russian bots may have influenced the U.S Elections 2016 heavily.

A new study finds that fake news spreads far faster than real news on social media. They deliberately did not use the phrase fake news, and they outsourced claims of veracity to Snopes.com, Politifact.com and four other independent fact-checking organisations. Twitter has reportedly created accounts that can identify these bots and "silence" them.

Fake news travels faster than truth

To study this effect, researchers looked at around 126,000 tweets, or what they term "rumour cascades", shared by Twitter users from 2006 to 2017, and measured how those tweets spread across the social network.

The emotional profiles of the responses to tweets carrying these stories revealed that people were more likely to express feelings of surprise and disgust on reading false news whereas the truth garnered responses displaying sadness, anticipation and trust.

Looking at "cascades" which are uninterrupted retweet chains, false news stories reached cascade depths of 10 nearly 20 times faster than true stories did.

"We conclude that human behavior contributes more to the differential spread of falsity and truth than automated robots do", they wrote. Stop yourself from sharing information you don't know to be true.

Psychology Prof Geoffrey Beattie from Edge Hill University in Lancashire, told the BBC there is a position of power associated with being someone who shares information that others have not heard before - regardless of whether or not it is true.

"Facebook is clearly the 800-pound gorilla in this conversation, but they have been much less transparent than Twitter", says Matthew Baum, a professor of global communications at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. As the numbers of consumers grow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and their ilk, fake news generators are going on overdrive trying to spread their own agenda - or, in many cases, just for fun.

"When you remove them from your analysis, the difference between the spread of false and true news still stands", said Soroush Vosoughi, who also co-authored the study.

The Twitter study affirmed that people are intrinsically drawn to spicier and not always true content.

On any given news item, the fact-checking organizations were in agreement between 95 and 98 per cent of the time.

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