Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Lies spread faster on social media than truth does

Lies spread faster on social media than truth does

"We define news as any story or claim with an assertion in it and a rumor as the social phenomena of a news story or claim spreading or diffusing through the Twitter network", they wrote in the study. "When people share novel information their status goes up", says Aral. Falsehood diffused farther and faster despite these seeming shortcomings.

Of all the different types of news Aral and his colleagues studied, they found that political news was more likely to go viral than any other kind. Truthful tweets also spread much more slowly than false ones, taking on average six times as long to reach an audience of 1,500 people.

Here are other findings from the research.

"We found that falsehood defuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth, in all categories of information, and in many cases by an order of magnitude", said Sinan Aral, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author.

And the term "fake news" has taken on its own life, referring not only to untrue reports but being increasingly used to dismiss reports that the user does not wish to agree with. The study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published on Thursday is one of the most comprehensive to date on how fake news circulates on social media.

A deep dive into Twitter shows that false news was re-tweeted more often than true news was, and carried further. Again, a tilt toward falsehood was clear. Technology companies, and particularly social-media firms, are facing a backlash from regulators and consumers anxious about the harm from their products. Jamieson said her site looks more at context and does not label something either true or false. "There is thus a risk that repeating false information, even in a fact-checking context, may increase an individual's likelihood of accepting it as true".

More news: Jets officially release Muhammad Wilkerson

A new study has found that falsehoods spread faster on Twitter than real news -and that the problem can't be blamed on bots.

Twitter funded the study but had no say in the outcome, according to the researchers. As a measurement tool, the researchers used a system created by Canada's National Research Council that associates English words with eight emotions.

Lead author Soroush Vosoughi, an MIT data scientist, said the three false stories that traveled the farthest and fastest were about a Muslim guard called a hero in the Paris bombings of 2015; an Iraq war veteran finishing as runner-up to Caitlyn Jenner for an ESPN courage award; and an episode of "The Simpsons" that had a story line in 2000 about a Trump presidency.

And fact-checking can backfire, they noted.

In 2014, the fashion chain Zara introduced children's pyjamas with horizontal stripes and a gold star.

Bot panic or not, Dr Vosoughi said social media companies may need to intervene. Snopes: True. Time to reach 200 retweets: 7.3 hours.

More news: Barbie Is Unveiling 17 New Dolls For International Women's Day

A single account was responsible for starting 4,700 false rumors.

The researchers said they found that the spread of false information was essentially not related to bots that are programmed to flood the Internet with inaccurate stories.

The researchers concluded that humans are worse offenders than robots.

So while the researchers "cannot claim that novelty causes retweets" by itself, as they state in the paper, the surprise people register when they see false news fits with the idea that the novelty of falsehoods may be an important part of their propagation.

Bots have received a lot of flak for their role in spreading false news on Twitter, but it turns out that these criticisms might not be entirely justified.

Menczer is a prominent voice on the fight against fake news whose research is frequently cited in major media outlets and academic conferences.

More news: McAleese attacks 'misogyny' of church in women's day speech

Like this: