November 30, 2020

Research Article: Misinformation Spreading on Facebook (Preprint)

The following article was recently shared by the authors on arXiv.

Title

Misinformation Spreading on Facebook

Authors

Fabiana Zollo
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy)

Walter Quattrociocchi
IMT School for Advanced Studies (Italy)

Source

via arXiv

Abstract

The consumption of a wide and heterogeneous mass of information sources on social media may affect the mechanisms behind the formation of public opinion. Nowadays social media are pervaded by unsubstantiated or untruthful rumors, which contribute to the alarming phenomenon of misinformation. Indeed, such a scenario represents a florid environment for digital wildfires when combined with functional illiteracy, information overload, and confirmation bias. In this essay we focus on a collection of works aiming at providing quantitative evidence about the cognitive determinants behind misinformation and rumor spreading.

We account for users’ behavior with respect to two distinct narratives: a) conspiracy and b) scientific information sources. In particular, we analyze Facebook data on a time span of five years in both the Italian and the US context, and measure users response to i) information consistent with one’s narrative, ii) troll contents, and iii) dissenting information e.g., debunking attempts. Our findings suggest that users join polarized communities sharing a common narrative (echo chamber) and tend to a) to acquire information confirming their beliefs (confirmation bias) even if containing false claims b) ignore dissenting information.

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