When Fake News Hits Twitter, It Spreads 6 Times Faster Than Truth – MIT

| July 11 , 2018 , 14:04 IST

A study conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has revealed that fake news travels faster and deeper than the truth.

Researchers found out that falsehoods are seventy percent more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than the truth. They also found out that fake news reached 1,500 people about six times faster than the truth.

The study was jointly undertaken by MIT Professor Sinal Aral, MIT Associate Professor Deb Roy who served as Chief Media scientist of Twitter and Soroush Vosoughi who is a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT. They used a set of rumor cascades on Twitter from 2006 to 2017 to understand how fake news spreads. The researchers investigated the differential distribution of all the verified true and false news stories posted on Twitter from 2006 to 2017. As per their report, about 126,000 rumors were spread by more than 3 million people on Twitter.

“False news reached more people than the truth; the top 1% of false news cascades diffused to between 1000 and 100,000 people, whereas the truth rarely diffused to more than 1000 people.” The study says.

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In order to classify news as true or false, the trio used six independent fact-checking organisations. These organisations had exhibited 95-98 percent agreement on the classifications.

“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.” Their report reads.

Humans, not bots responsible for the spread of fake news:

The study reveals an interesting finding. It states that bots accelerated the spread of true and fake news at the same rate concluding that fake news travels fast because of humans, not bots, contrary to conventional wisdom.