Twitter more likely to spread fake news during disasters and emergencies, states a new study!

Twitter more likely to spread fake news during disasters and emergencies, states a new study!
  • There is an age-old proverb that says-

“A lie has traveled half the way around the world before truth can even gets its boots.”

  • This might be an exaggeration in those days but in the modern days of Twitter, it seems to make more sense.
  • A new University of Buffalo study found that tweeting during disasters, emergencies, or during breaking news events could lead to the spread of false news.

There is a lack of second thoughts by more than 90% of the people who use this platform during such calamities.

The recent study

A recent study carried out by researchers of the University of Buffalo studied closely 20000 tweets made during Hurricane Sandy and the bombing in Boston. This study is now published in the journal Natural Hazards.

The study reveals that 86 to 91% of the Twitter users spread misinformation by retweeting the original tweet or by liking it. There is only less than 10%of the users who try to correct the wrong.

Source: Pinterest (Twitter and its spread of fake news)

The researchers took to evaluating 4 false rumors that did the rounds during the two major events. The researchers showed that most of the Twitter users never expressed any doubt when presented with the fake news and just clicked the retweet or like an icon for the news. The net result was that they were only spreading false news.

There was only a small number of them who really put their brains in and expressed doubt that the tweet is likely to be false.

It was also found that even after the false report was debunked, none of the Twitter users who had retweeted the post tried to rectify their past mistakes and informed his followers that they were wrong the first time. So the wrong continues and remains undone.

Only 1 in 5 tried to let their followers know the wrong and 1 in 10 deleted the fake tweet.

The conclusion of the study

The lead author of the article states :

“These findings are important because they show how easily people are deceived during times when they are most vulnerable and the role social media platforms play in these deceptions,”

Source: Themexpert (Twitter and spread of fake news)

You may like to read Fake news engagements on Facebook have more than doubled in 2020 compared to the 2016 US Elections!

The previous MIT study

A previous MIT study had shown that false sensational stories get 70 % more retweeted than true ones. Also, facts were slow to reach 1500 people compared to fake reports. True stories took 6 times more time to reach 1500 people compared to the false tales which literally spread like fire.

The subject matter

There has been a lot of discussions on this matter since political parties seem to have started misusing the platform be it in the USA or India. They hijack the platforms and use it for propaganda and misinformation campaigns.

After the 2016 Presidential election, companies such as Facebook and Twitter have been directed to take action in this direction.

Source; Genbeta (The wrong side of Twitter)

The main issue is that the real spread of such fake news is carried out by the everyday general public who has no time or inclination to look into the matter in detail and are spreading falsehood without getting any pay for it.

People seek sensationalism and Facebook had tried to limit the spread of fake news with red label warnings. This ironically only aided their spread.

Source: Edudemic (Twitter-the bad outdoes the good)

Facebook and Twitter started with good intentions but it was soon toppled. They are now been told to act as fact-checkers and gatekeepers. With no control over the users, things can go haywire. These are the downsides of social media, for sure.

Also read Donald Trump criticizes Fox News for its anti-Donald Trump news! Fox News’ Neil Cavuto lashes back!

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