False News On Twitter Spread Faster, Human Plays Major Role Than Bots

False News On Twitter Spread Faster, Human Plays Major Role Than Bots

They call for a new drive of interdisciplinary research 'to reduce the spread of fake news and to address the underlying pathologies it has revealed'. "People respond to false news more with surprise and disgust", he notes, whereas true stories produced replies more generally characterized by sadness, anticipation, and trust.

For instance, the true news-related tweets rarely reached over 1,000 people. Although bots do join to the spread of false news, they also have the same impact on truthful news.

"People are more likely to spread novel information, which favors the spread of falsity over the truth", Aral said in a statement.

The study, of news and rumors shared by 3 million Twitter users, found that false information spreads more quickly and further than accurate information.

Of the 126,000 cascades, politics comprised the biggest news category, with about 45,000, followed by urban legends, business, terrorism, science, entertainment, and natural disasters. "Even before the internet and social media, people would spread gossip around the water cooler or barbecue", Vosoughi said.

To understand how false news - especially "fake" political news - spreads, MIT Media Lab researchers Soroush Vosoughi, Deb Roy and Sinan Aral analyzed spread across Twitter between 2006 and 2017. Roy adds that the researchers were "somewhere between surprised and stunned" at the different trajectories of true and false news on Twitter.

False news spread farther "despite these characteristics, not because of them", Aral said. "Run behavior intervention experiments to see if we can dampen the spread of misinformation". Twitter provided its data for the research.

The researchers also settled on the term "false news" as their object of study, as distinct from the now-ubiquitous term "fake news", which involves multiple broad meanings. "Thus, people who share novel information are seen as being in the know", Aral said.

The team used six independent fact-checking sources, including Snopes and Urbanlegend, to identify whether the stories in the study were genuine. "Fake news is ideal for spreadability: It's going to be shocking, it's going to be surprising, and it's going to be playing on people's emotions, and that's a recipe for how to spread misinformation", Miriam Metzger, a UC Santa Barbara communications researcher not involved in the study, tells Resnick. He compared on some of the facts how often and widely false stories were shared in against true news.

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Menczer agreed that "novelty" helps explain why people retweet false information.

"If you think of this study as what the problem is, I think the next step is to clearly think about what we can do about it", he said.

In a January submission to Congress, Twitter revised a prior disclosure, saying that more than 50,000 thousand Russian-linked bots and 3,800 human operatives were responsible for tweeting content related to the 2016 US election.

The researchers dug deeper to find out what kind of false information travels faster and farther. They included traditional news media stories and also tweets that were spreading rumors or claims.

But he offered some generalities about who propagates false news: A false rumour cascade was more likely to begin with a young, unverified account with a small number of followers. Whereas the top one percent of false news reached to 100,000 people.

But there are other factors, he said.

So Aral's team made a decision to use the term "false news" instead.

For now, Roy says, even well-meaning Twitter users might reflect on a simple idea: "Think before you retweet".

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