Fake news spreads faster than truth via Twitter, study says

Darryl Esguerra
PUBLISHED March 12, 2018 03:11 pm
Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

(Inside Manila) Social media has created a boom in the spread of information, and most of the time, even misinformation. In this digital age, it is still relevant that rumors have always spread faster than the truth. A new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows just how much falsehoods are amplified by the power of social media.

The study, published by Science Magazine, claimed that false news on social media site Twitter spreads “farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly” than facts.

Examining about 126,000 stories shared by some 3 million Twitter users from 2006 to 2017, the study found that fake news was about 70% more likely to be retweeted by people than true news. The stories examined in the study were reviewed by six independent fact-checking organizations to assess their veracity.

The study noted that it takes true news about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people.

It is not armies of bots that are to blame, but humans. The MIT study found out that automated accounts, or bots, augmented true and false news equally, meaning people were more directly responsible for the spread of false news.

“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,” the study reads.

Like in the US, Twitter and other social media companies such as Facebook have been under scrutiny by lawmakers and international regulators for doing too little to prevent the spread of false news through their respective platforms.


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