False news ‘travels faster’, study finds

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A study of 126,000 rumours and false news spread on Twitter, over a period of 11 years, found that they travelled faster and reach more people than the truth.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also found that the fake news was the most commonly re-tweeted by the man of the bot.

They said it could be because of false news tends to be “more new”.

The most common, a matter for the false news of politics.

Other popular themes included urban legends, business, terrorism, science, entertainment and natural disasters.

Twitter has provided their data for research.

The company has told the BBC that it is already engaged with the attempt to develop a “health check” to measure his contribution to the public conversation.

“False news is more novel, and people are more likely to share novel information,” said Professor Sinan Aral, a study co-authors.

While the team did not conclude the news on their own caused the re-tweet, have said false news tended to be more surprising than the real news, that might make it more likely to be shared.

Prof Aral, Soroush Vosoughi, and associate professor Deb Roy began their search in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings in 2013.

“Twitter has become our main source of news,” said Dr. Vosoughi.

“I realized that … a good chunk of what I was reading on social media has been rumors; it was false news.”

The team has used six independent fact-checking sources, including Snopes and Urbanlegend, to locate out if the stories in the study were genuine.

Their results, published in the journal Science, included:
false news stories were 70% more likely to be re-tweeted true stories
It took the true stories of about six times more to reach 1,500 people
True stories have rarely been shared more than 1,000 people, but the more widespread false news could reach up to 100,000
The best gossip

Psychology Professor Geoffrey Beattie from Edge Hill University in Lancashire, has told the BBC there is a position of power associated with someone that shares information that others have not heard before, regardless of whether or not it is true.

“People want to share information that is worthy of note – in a certain sense, the value of truth is less of a concern,” he said.

He compared the dissemination of false information with the sharing of gossip.

“The point about gossip is gossip is juicy gossip – the last thing that people are worried about is if this is true or not,” he said.

“But if it is plausible or not.

“We are saturated with news, so that things should always be more amazing, or disgusting, to get attention.”