Why ‘False News’ Spreads Faster Than Truth

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Mental Health News

THURSDAY, March 8, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Amid growing concerns about the impact of “fake news,” a new study finds that false stories take off much faster than truth on Twitter.

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

Falsities were about 70 percent more likely to be “retweeted” than truth, said the researchers. They were led by Sinan Aral, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, Mass.

False stories often came from “bots” — automated accounts that impersonate real users. But it seemed that humans were the main reason that fiction spread faster than fact.

Reports of false information related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election put the spotlight on the power of false news to influence public opinion.

With midterm elections approaching, false news remains a concern.

In this study, “novelty” seemed to be key, Aral’s team said.

False stories typically contained something new or surprising — whereas true stories could get repetitive.

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