May 16, 2021

New Research: “Fake News Travels Six Times Faster than the Truth On Twitter”

UPDATE MARCH 12: Commentary by Kent Anderson: “Blindspot — Was a Key Factor Missed in the Study of Viral Lies?” (via The Scholarly Kitchen)

From a New Scientist Article:

Sinan Aral and his colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) cross-checked the spread of 126,000 stories on Twitter against a database of stories fact-checked by six independent organisations, including Snopes, Politifact and Factcheck.

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Truthful tweets took six times as long as fake ones to spread across Twitter to 1,500 people – in large part because falsehoods in the sample were 70 per cent more likely to be retweeted than the truth, even after accounting for account age, activity level and their number of followers. The most viral fake news was political in nature.

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Despite the belief that armies of bots are sowing discord and spreading information, it is people, rather than automated accounts, most likely to share incorrect information.

Read the Complete New Scientist Article

Full Text Research Article

Title

The Spread Of True and False News Online

Authors

Soroush Vosoughi
MIT

Deb Roy
MIT

Sinan Aral
MIT

Source

Science
Vol. 359, Issue 6380
DOI: 10.1126/science.aap9559

Abstract

We investigated the differential diffusion of all of the verified true and false news stories distributed on Twitter from 2006 to 2017. The data comprise ~126,000 stories tweeted by ~3 million people more than 4.5 million times. We classified news as true or false using information from six independent fact-checking organizations that exhibited 95 to 98% agreement on the classifications. Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information. We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information. Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust, and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust. Contrary to conventional wisdom, robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.

Direct to Full Text Research Article ||| PDF Version (7 pages)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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