Researchers on Tuesday said that “Fake news stories spread more quickly and widely on Twitter than true stories and people and ‘bots’ drive these are not to be blamed for this.”
A group of researchers conducted this study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab department where they examined about 126,000 stories shared by people on Twitter in the period 2006 to 2017, and they found that false news is more likely to be shared by people rather than the truthful ones.
This study published in Journal Science was one of the most comprehensive efforts to track down the spread of false news on the social media platform. These stories were examined by six-independent fact-checking organizations including Snopes and Politifact.
Twitter and other social media platforms like Facebook have been under scrutiny of U.S. officials and other international organizations for not taking many steps to stop the flow of false news.
The U.S. also accused Russia of sowing discord in the U.S. and try to interfere in the United States 2016 presidential elections.
There were several topics in which the false news spread more quickly and widely, and the one at the top was politics. The political news was covered the most.
Other topics included terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends or financial information, the researchers said.
There has been a noted increase in spreading of false news in social media platforms from 2012 to 2016.
MIT media lab researcher and the lead author Soroush Vosoughi said that although ‘bots’ are said to be responsible for sharing such information, this study has brought the fact that common people rather than bots more likely share this news.
This news is more striking and eye-catching for people in the same way that sensationalized ‘click-bait’ headlines garner more attention.
He said that if someone makes up a rumor that goes against what everyone expected, then it is most likely to be shared by the mass.
This study was focused on Twitter; but researchers have also said that their result would apply to other social media platforms too, like Facebook. Twitter was quite supportive of this study.
It has provided the required data to the team and has also funded the organization to carry-on this study. Another researcher, Deb Roy, said that “Let’s not take this as our destiny that we have entered into the post-truth world from which we will not emerge.”