False information travels much faster than the truth on Twitter

Twitter suspends thousands of accounts for pro-terrorism and violence contents

The researchers found that bots were as likely to promote accurate news stories as often as fabricated ones. They were led by Sinan Aral, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass. They came to this conclusion by comparing how frequently real and false stories were tweeted: the latter won by a huge margin. Aral, Roy, and Vosoughi suggest the answer may reside in human psychology: We like new things.

Reports of false information related to the 2016 USA presidential election put the spotlight on the power of false news to influence public opinion. The study doesn't address that directly, but the researchers do hypothesize that the novelty of fake news makes it more appealing to share.

Roy said the study results reminded him of the often-cited quotation that essentially says a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots - or trousers - on. Responses to false news stories online prompted surprise and disgust, whereas replies to true stories evoked sadness, anticipation, joy and trust.

"It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information", Vosoughi tells Meyer.

It's comforting to image that when faced with outright falsehoods, readers would recognize "fake news" for what it is and stop it in its tracks.

And it's a concern, Menczer said.

The paper, "The Spread of True and False News Online", is published today in Science.

For the study, Aral's team analyzed about 126,000 stories tweeted by roughly 3 million Twitter accounts between 2006 and 2017.

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In other words, virtually identical to the Sooners except with one more victory and a better head-to-head record. The top four teams in the Spokane Region are top-seeded Notre Dame, Oregon, Ohio State and Texas A&M.

"The authors are very honest with the interpretation of their results: They can not claim any causality between novelty and endorsement, but they provide convincing evidence that novelty plays an important role in spreading fake information", said Manlio De Domenico, a scientist at the Bruno Kessler Foundation's Center for Information Technology in Italy who tracked how the Higgs boson rumour spread on Twitter. They deliberately did not use the phrase fake news, and they outsourced claims of veracity to Snopes.com, Politifact.com and four other independent fact-checking organisations. The spread of false stories was more pronounced for political news than for news in the other categories.

The truth was also slow-moving, the study found.

The data they analysed included in the region of 126,000 stories tweeted by three million people more than 4.5 million times.

And it wasn't bots spreading most of the falsehoods, they found. Instead, humans seemed to be the driving force behind false stories' popularity. And Roy says the findings may help create "measurements or indicators that could become benchmarks" for social networks, advertisers, and other parties.

If a fishy-sounding tweet happens to align with what you already believe, you will be less likely to question it, Menczer noted. The report also found that "novel" information was more likely to be retweeted. Aral says the result is "very scary" in civic terms, while Roy is a bit more sanguine. But the researchers said they can not comment on how the company might use the findings.

To investigate how fake news spreads, MIT data scientist Soroush Vosoughi and his colleagues collected 12 years of data from Twitter.

University of Pennsylvania communications professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a co-founder of factcheck.org, had problems with the way the study looked at true and false stories.

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