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MIT Study Finds That Fake News Travels 6 Times Faster on Twitter, And I Didn’t Make That Up!

Permalink 03/09/18 21:26, by OGRE / (Jeff), Categories: Background, Fun, In real life, Politics

In this Yahoo Finance article, they explain a little about this.

"No matter how you slice it, falsity wins out," said co-author Deb Roy, who runs MIT's Laboratory for Social Machines and is a former chief media scientist at Twitter.

Twitter funded the study but had no say in the outcome, according to the researchers.

The scientists calculated that the average false story takes about 10 hours to reach 1,500 Twitter users, versus about 60 hours for the truth. On average, false information reaches 35 percent more people than true news.

While true news stories almost never got retweeted to 1,000 people, the top 1 percent of the false ones got to as many as 100,000 people.

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. The MIT team characterized a story's truth on a 1-to-5 scale, with 1 being completely false. Factcheck.org, Jamieson said, looks more at context and does not label something either true or false.

She also suggested that calling this bogus information "false stories" does not capture how malignant it is. She said it would "better be called viral deception. VD. And treated as analogous to venereal disease."

There are many reasons for this, namely because most false stories tend to be sensational. Sensationalism sells.

Let’s say for example that someone where you work were to start a rumor that the smallest weakest looking guy there claims to bench 300 pounds, now for this example we’ll assume that he can’t. The rumor/”false story” would spread quickly. It wouldn’t be long before someone would ask him, “Do you really think that anyone believes that you can bench 300 pounds?”

If I were to hear that story, I wouldn’t believe it. Why would someone claim something that is obviously not true? What would they have to gain from it? The short answer is nothing substantial. The most they could hope for would be to gather negative attention, however; the rumor could be potentially beneficial to the person who started it.

Let’s say the person with whom the rumor was directed, was up for a promotion. The silly rumor might make management think that the guy is not a reliable source of information. They might think, “If he’ll exaggerate about something like that; why would we believe him in an important business situation?”

It’s easy to see how this sort of thing can be damaging. It’s also easy to see how this sort of misinformation can be used to one’s advantage as well. Something not mentioned in the story is how most people believe the first thing they hear; it causes them to form an opinion at that point in time. Everyone knows, it’s always harder to change someone’s opinion. After all, that’s why they say first impressions are often the most important. That being the case, misinformation campaigns are often successful. Once the story is out, the opinion is formed.

Take the Michael Wolff book for example. Wolff all but admitted that most of the book is entirely fabricated. But because of the sensational nature of the book, the news ran with the story for multiple days. Those in the media had to know that the majority of the information in the book was simply not true. Wolff made sensational claims in the book, this was done with the intention of selling copies, because why? Sensationalism sells.

Those in the media who interviewed Wolff were aware at the time of the interview that Wolff was going beyond stretching the truth, but they reported on it anyway. They used language designed to make it look like they were interviewing Wolff, when they were actually trying to get that rumor out there. The headline would read “'Fire and Fury' author Michael Wolff: Trump may be having extramarital affair in White House.”

These sorts of headlines are designed to plant a seed. That way, when you hear something about Trump and an affair, you will remember having heard something about it before. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s true, you’ve heard it before. You will probably hear it again and again. Once you hear it enough, you’ll start to believe it.

There’s another name for "viral deception," It’s called PROPAGANDA.

©2018 by Jeff Michaels

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