Fake News Spreads Faster than Fact
A new study in Science quantifies the spread of Twitter rumors. Previous research tracked rumors after specific events, like the false information that swirled around the Boston Marathon bombing. In this more wide-ranging study, a team of researchers at MIT tracked falsehoods and truths using a database of every tweet written from 2006 to 2017. Bottom line: False news moves through Twitter “farther, faster, deeper and more broadly” than the truth. (Tweet it!)
As reported in The Washington Post, MIT professor Sinan Aral and colleagues observed that, “even the farthest-reaching true rumors rarely spread to more than 1,000 people. But the top 1 percent of falsehoods routinely had audiences of 1,000 to 100,000 people.” Politics got the most attention among true and false rumors, they discovered.
The study authors hypothesized that falsehoods contain more novelty than truth. To that end, they measured the “information uniqueness” of rumors and discovered that false rumors were more likely to contain new, but incorrect, information. It's easier to be novel when you’re unconstrained by reality,” Aral said.
Have you ever been seduced by a false Twitter rumor, or even retweeted it? Why do you think you gave it credence? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion
Bobbi L Kamil
7/17/2018 12:45:10 pm
I have a feeling that your audience is not the audience that gives falsehoods the credence that the study suggests. I wonder how others feel about this.
7/17/2018 01:27:02 pm
I would like to believe that you are correct about our community, Bobbi. And even so it is chilling to consider that fake news is "stickier" than real news.
7/23/2018 07:37:49 am
Temptation to believe was because it was what I had believed to be a credible source and a compelling story that appeared credible. Taking the bait was hard to admit. But the learning was worth it. Betrayal of trust is the bigger loss to the author, as the natural tendency with cognitive dissonance is one tends to share negative experiences more than positive ones.
7/24/2018 12:04:13 pm
So true, Mike. Once credibility is lost it is hard to regain. Glad you were able to gain value from a negative experience.
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