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Science. 2018 Mar 9;359(6380):1146-1151. doi: 10.1126/science.aap9559.

The spread of true and false news online.

Author information

1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Media Lab, E14-526, 75 Amherst Street, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.
2
MIT, E62-364, 100 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA. sinan@mit.edu.

Abstract

We investigated the differential diffusion of all of the verified true and false news stories distributed on Twitter from 2006 to 2017. The data comprise ~126,000 stories tweeted by ~3 million people more than 4.5 million times. We classified news as true or false using information from six independent fact-checking organizations that exhibited 95 to 98% agreement on the classifications. Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information. We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information. Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust, and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust. Contrary to conventional wisdom, robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.

PMID:
29590045
DOI:
10.1126/science.aap9559

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