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News 20.04.2018

Twitter study: Fake news spreads faster than correct information

Untrue allegations and fake news spread on Twitter much faster and reach more people than real information, according to a US study.

For the largest long-term study of its kind to date, which the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) conducted and published in the journal Science, researchers studied the spread of 126,000 English language stories. They were tweeted and retweeted by three million people more than 4.5 million times between 2006 and 2017. Independent fact checkers verified the stories before their proliferation was studied by the researchers.

The study shows that untrue content is 70 percent more likely to spread, and spread much further. Whether this was done intentionally or not was not part of the investigation. Content in all segments and in all forms was distributed. It covered topics from politics and entertainment, as well as opinions or links to original articles. Political issues were by far the most affected however, write the researchers.

A further step investigated why untrue content spread faster and further. The researchers came to a simple conclusion: “Because we like what’s new.” Untrue content elicited different emotions among the users, and thus those stories seemed often more exciting and new to twitter users, according to the authors.

Likewise, the influence of so-called bots was considered. These are programs that automatically generate tweets. Bots, according to the findings, while driving the proliferation of falsehoods are not essentially responsible for the spread of fake news.

Quelle: (DPA, FAZ)

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