th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

Fake News Spreads Faster on Twitter Than Real News, Study Says

People share fake news over Twitter because they find the content novel, according to the MIT study
By Michael Kan |

Fake News Spreads Faster on Twitter Than Real News, Study Says

Chelsea Guglielmino | Getty Images
Brought to you by PCMag

 

 

Falsehoods spread faster on Twitter than real news, and the problem can't be blamed on bots, a new study finds.

 

Fake news tends to have the real news beat in one area: novelty. That's why Twitter users can't help but share half-truths and unchecked rumors over the platform, according to a trio of MIT researchers.

 

The findings appear in the latest issue of Science and underscore an ongoing critique facing Twitter: that the social media service is doing more harm than good by becoming a hotbed for fake news and propaganda. The study delved deeper into the issue by examining how 126,000 stories -- both real and false -- were tweeted by over 3 million people.

 

"We found that falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information," the authors wrote.

For instance, the true news-related tweets rarely reached over 1,000 people. In contrast, the top 1 percent of tweets carrying false news routinely spread from between 1,000 to 100,000 people. Fake political news was especially viral; it reached over 20,000 people faster than what other false news categories could do.

 

"When we estimated a model of the likelihood of retweeting, we found that falsehoods were 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than the truth," the authors added.

 

Did follower counts have anything to do with the results? Not really. The people who shared the false news stories generally had fewer followers than people who tweeted fact-based stories, the study said. Fake news sharers were also less active on Twitter, usually weren't verified, and hadn't been on the platform for long.

 

To account for bots, the MIT team used a computer algorithm to strip out suspected fake accounts from their research data. But even without the algorithm, their overall findings remained the same.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

 

"We conclude that human behavior contributes more to the differential spread of falsity and truth than automated robots do," they said. This suggests that to fight misinformation, Twitter will have to do more than simply crack down on bots, the authors added.

The study doesn't exactly paint the social media service in the best light. But Twitter actually supported the researchers by providing funding and access to the archived tweets. CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted his support for the study, following his own public efforts to clean up the service. "Important findings within that [research] will help improve our work," he said.

 

Among those projects is an effort to measure the health of conversations across the platform. The company has also been notifying users who interacted with Russian propaganda on Twitter during the 2016 presidential election.

 

 

*****

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors

Latest Articles

You Can Start a Small Business by Monetizing Something You're Already Doing

Do you love to garden or knit or advise friends about growing their business?

byBrian Hughes | June 20, 2018 02:00:00

(LOOK) Is There a Mang Inasal Copycat in Indonesia?

We don't blame you if you're feeling some deja vu

bySasha Lim Uy for Esquiremag.ph | June 20, 2018 00:00:00

Grab PH to Subsidize Drivers Earning Less Than Breakeven Fare Amid Adverse LTFRB Rules and Higher Fuel Prices

The transport network company expects to shell out Php100 million a month for the subsidy

byPauline Macaraeg | June 19, 2018 18:00:00

Why You Should Be at the Largest Gathering of Southeast Asia’s Tech Startups on June 22-23

With 4 keynotes, 3 panels, 2 fireside chats and 2 debates, Techtonic Summit 2018 has a full program...

byElyssa Christine Lopez | June 19, 2018 16:00:00

BPI-Philam CEO Let 10-Year-Old Daughter Manage Her College Fund. Guess What Happened Next

Q&A with Surendra Menon, chief executive officer of BPI-Philam Life Assurance Corp.

byRoel Landingin | June 19, 2018 14:00:00

Financial Adviser: 5 Things You Should Know About D.M. Wenceslao & Associates' IPO

Understand the business of DMW and how its growth prospects will help increase the value of your...

byHenry Ong | June 19, 2018 09:00:00

5 Health Habits These Successful Entrepreneurs Swear By

If Seth Godin drinks a healthy smoothie and Mark Cuban exercises an hour every day, you can, too

byAnna Johansson | June 19, 2018 06:00:00

(Infographic) What Will the Future of Work Look Like After the Robot Revolution?

By 2033, it's predicted that nearly half the country's jobs will be taken over by robots

byRose Leadem | June 19, 2018 02:00:00

The New Sakay.ph App Update Is Out to Make Your Daily Commute a Little Bit Better

It launches June 19

byJamie Sanchez for Spot.ph | June 19, 2018 00:00:00

Contractor Vows Oct 2018 Start for Prep Works on LRT-1 Project That Will Cut Bacoor-Baclaran Travel to 30 Minutes

That compares to one-and-a-half hours travel time at present

byElyssa Christine Lopez | June 18, 2018 19:00:00

From Military Engineer to Reclamation Pioneer: D.M. Wenceslao and PH’s First IPO of 2018

The construction company is selling its shares to the public from June 18 to 22

byLorenzo Kyle Subido | June 18, 2018 19:00:00

Do You Run a Creative Hub or Enterprise? This UK-Funded Fellowship May Be For You

The one-year program aims to develop leaders who will help the country harness the creative...

byRoel Landingin | June 18, 2018 17:00:00
Close