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Spreading False News

March 9, 2018

Why false news spreads faster than the truth on social media.



Re-tweeting falsehoods. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Ever since it began tweeting to the masses in 2006, Twitter has spread both true and false news around the globe. Now, MIT researchers report in the journal Science that false news spreads much faster than the real thing. Applied statistician Sinan Aral and his team analyzed every tweet verified to be a true, false, or mixed news story between 2006 and 2017.


What we found was that false news travels farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in every category of information than we studied.


He says false news about politics spreads especially quickly, and can have real-world consequences on financial markets and elections, for example. His team hypothesizes that the relative novelty of false news attracts attention, compelling people to retweet it. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard