A study published in the journal Science provides hard evidence that fake news — or, to use the researchers’ preferred term, false news — spreads via Twitter significantly more rapidly than verified news.
What’s more, MIT scientists found that humans, not bots, are mostly to blame. It turns out that people are generally more taken by made-up novelty than by sober truth.
So what is to be done? In a policy perspective, other researchers call for a large-scale campaign against fake news, including educational efforts and revisions in social-media algorithms.
MIT’s Deb Roy has a simpler prescription: “Think before you retweet.”
In addition to Roy, the authors of the MIT study, “The Spread of True and False News Online,” include Soroush Vosoughi and Sinan Aral. The authors of the Science policy perspective, “The Science of Fake News,” include David Lazer, Matthew Baum, Yochai Benkler, Adam Berinsky, Kelly Greenhill, Filippo Menczer, Miriam Metzger, Brendan Nyhan, Gordon Pennycook, David Rothschild, Michael Schudson, Steven Sloman, Cass Sunstein, Emily Thorson, Duncan Watts and Jonathan Zittrain. Rothschild and Watts are researchers at Microsoft.