Science and Tech


Fake News On Twitter Spreads Farther And Faster Than Truth

MIT researchers found fake news stories were much more likely to go viral on Twitter than real stories.
Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 08, 2018

Facebook has gotten most of the blame for the spread of fake news, but now it's Twitter's turn. A new study shows Twitter users are way more likely to hit the retweet button on stories that are outright false.

Researchers at MIT got access to Twitter's full history going back to 2006. The team analyzed about 126,000 examples of viral stories that were either verifiably true or false and found the false stories outperformed the real ones in every possible way.

False stories were 70 percent more likely to be retweeted and spread at least six times as fast. Tens of thousands of people routinely saw them, while true stories rarely broke 1,000.

The study also found you couldn't blame the spread of false information on bot networks or on a few troublemakers with large followings. Instead, fake news was more likely to go truly viral, spreading organically among real Twitter users.

I'm sure you've heard some of the old sayings about lies traveling faster than the truth, but now you know by how much.

One other finding: Fake political news was easily Twitter's worst offender, spreading farther and faster than even other kinds of fake news, let alone the truth. They also found fake news is becoming more prevalent and spikes around U.S. presidential elections.