DETROIT (WWJ) – Where do you get your trusted news? There are so many sources of information today from hard copy newspapers to social media.
If you are counting on Twitter for your news – a new study finds that false or fake news stories spread much more quickly and widely on Twitter than factual stories.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab looked at 126,000 stories shared by roughly 3 million people on Twitter from 2006 to 2017 and found that false news was about 70 percent more likely to be retweeted by people than true news. And that fake stories spread much more quickly and broadly than true stories in all categories of information.
The study found that the topics covered in the false stories were increasing political in nature rather than false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends or financial information.
It takes real news stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number.
David Lazer, a social media analyst at Harvard, says false stories may travel faster because they tend to be more fascinating.
“The fake news may be manufactured to be more outrageous and motivating,” said Lazer.
Social media companies, especially Facebook, have been under constant fire lately for not doing enough to curb the spread of fake news stories.
An indictment handed down by special counsel Robert Mueller in February against three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizen on charges of widespread interference in the 2016 presidential election has had a ripple effect in social media industries.
“Researchers who study social media said the indictment, secured by special counsel Robert Mueller, showed that Facebook was ill-prepared for such efforts. Facebook has more than 25,000 employees, but fewer than 100 Russian provocateurs armed with social-media savvy and widely available technological tools were able to manipulate its platform for years,” according to the Wall Street Journal.