'Fake News' Spreads Faster On Twitter Than The Truth

posted by Bill Galluccio - 

Social media companies have their work cut out for them as they attempt to curb the spread of "fake news" on their platforms. A new study claims that false stories spread much faster on Twitter than real stories based on facts, according to ABC News

The massive study conducted by researchers at MIT analyzed around 126,000 stories that have been shared on Twitter beginning in 2006. Those stories were tweeted by 3 million users and shared over 4.5 million times. 

Researchers say that false stories reach "1,500 people six times quicker, on average, than a true story does." The study found the fake political stories tend to spread faster and reach a wider audience than stories on other topics.

A false story reaches 1,500 people six times quicker, on average, than a true story does. And while false stories outperform the truth on every subject—including business, terrorism and war, science and technology, and entertainment—fake news about politics regularly does best.

One of the study authors said the spread of false information "might have something to do with human nature."

“It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information,” said Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at MIT who has studied fake news since 2013 and who led this study. “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.”

The study also found that bots tended to be better arbiters of truth than humans. 

From 2006 to 2016, Twitter bots amplified true stories as much as they amplified false ones, the study found. Fake news prospers, the authors write, “because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.”

Photo: Getty Images

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