Connect with us

Latest News

Lies spread faster on social media than truth does

Published

on

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

If it seems like fake news is everywhere, that may be because it is.

Falsehoods spread like wildfire on social media, getting quicker and longer-lasting pickup than the truth, researchers reported on Thursday.

A deep dive into Twitter shows that false news was re-tweeted more often than true news was, and carried further.

“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,” the team, led bySinan Aral of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in the journal Science.

“It took the truth about six times as long as falsehood to reach 1,500 people.”

And it wasn’t bots spreading most of the falsehoods, they found. It was real people doing most of it. Usually ordinary people, too, they found: so-called ‘verified’ users and those with many followers were not usually the source of some of the most popular untrue viral posts.

It might be because false statements sound more surprising, they said.

“We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information,” they wrote.

It should come as no surprise that the internet has spawned a resurgence of fake news. Congress and the FBI are investigating evidence that Russian and other foreign users deliberately flooded social media with untrue reports and posts intended to mislead people about political candidates.

And the term “fake news” has taken on its own life, referring not only to untrue reports but being increasingly used to dismiss reports that the user does not wish to agree with.

Related

So Aral’s team decided to use the term “false news” instead. They also used a broad definition of “news”. “We refer to any asserted claim made on Twitter as news,” they said.

The study started with PhD research by MIT’s Soroush Vosoughi, who was struck by the false reports that spread rapidly after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, in which three people were killed and 264 injured.

“Twitter became our main source of news,” Vosoughi said in a statement. “I realized that … a good chunk of what I was reading on social media was rumors,” he added.

To objectively separate truth from lies or mistakes, Vosoughi and colleagues used sites devoted to fact-checking: factcheck.org, hoax-slayer.com, politifact.com, snopes.org, truthorfiction.com, and urbanlegends.about.com. The six sites agreed on which reports were true about 95 percent of the time, they said.

For the report, they examined 126,000 stories tweeted by about 3 million people more than 4.5 million times.

They found that false news stories were 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories were.

Untrue stories also had more staying power, carrying onto more “cascades,” or unbroken re-tweet chains, they found.

Related

When they looked at who was spreading the wrong stuff, they found it was ordinary users of social media.

“We conclude that human behavior contributes more to the differential spread of falsity and truth than automated robots do,” they wrote.

Why retweet that post before you know whether it’s actually true?

Status, Aral said. “People who share novel information are seen as being in the know,” he said.

But don’t forget about the bots, argue Filippo Menczer of Indiana University and colleagues. They estimate that 60 million “bots” post automatic updates on Facebook and up to 48 million are on Twitter.

“The spreaders of fake news are using increasingly sophisticated methods,” Menczer said in a statement.

Why do people fall for it, whether it’s from a bot or a real friend?

“False news is more novel, and people are more likely to share novel information,” Aral said. Plus, people like to repeat information that seems to affirm their beliefs.

“People prefer information that confirms their preexisting attitudes, view information consistent with their preexisting beliefs as more persuasive than dissonant information (confirmation bias), and are inclined to accept information that pleases them,” David Lazer of Northeastern University and colleagues wrote in an editorial.

And fact-checking can backfire, they noted. “Fact-checking might even be counterproductive under certain circumstances,” they wrote. “There is thus a risk that repeating false information, even in a fact-checking context, may increase an individual’s likelihood of accepting it as true.”

They call for more high-quality research into the false news problem and what can be done about it, pointing to reforms in the early 20th century that gave rise to legitimate newspapers with ethics promoting objectivity and credibility out of the ashes of a boisterous yellow press.

Source link

Latest News

Akamai Technologies apologises after several high-profile websites including HSBC, Airbnb and British Airways hit by outages | Science & Tech News

Published

on

Akamai Technologies, a content delivery company, has apologised after a software update in its services caused several websites to go down.

Sites including Barclays, HSBC, British Airways and Airbnb were affected, but service was restored shortly afterwards.

In its apology, Akamai said: “At 15:46 UTC today, a software configuration update triggered a bug in the DNS system, the system that directs browsers to websites. This caused a disruption impacting availability of some customer websites.

“The disruption lasted up to an hour. Upon rolling back the software configuration update, the services resumed normal operations. Akamai can confirm this was not a cyberattack against Akamai’s platform.

“We apologise for the inconvenience that resulted. We are reviewing our software update process to prevent future disruptions.”

During the outage, a message on the BA website read: “Service Unavailable – DNS failure. The server is temporarily unable to service your request. Please try again later.”

And a message on Airbnb’s site said: “This site can’t be reached.”

HSBC’s website had a similar message.

There were reports other airlines and major companies are also affected, as well as the 911 service on the east coast of the US.

Akamai logo
Image:
Akamai has apologised for the incident

Edge DNS is a content delivery network (CDN), providing a similar service to Cloudflare, Amazon CloudFront or Fastly.

CDNs speed up the internet by keeping copies of websites’ data in various locations around the world, so computers do not have to wait for long periods of time to talk to sites on the other side of the world.

Last month, large parts of the internet went down when CDN Fastly began experiencing issues.

US-based Fastly said the issues on 8 June were down to an “undiscovered software bug” in its system which was triggered by a single unnamed customer who updated their settings.



Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Man stranded in sea for 49 hours is rescued after cargo ship sank off Liberia coast | World News

Published

on

The rescue of a man who was stranded in the sea for 49 hours has been captured on video.

Sea Shepherd, a non-profit marine conservation organisation, and the Liberian coastguard came to the aid of crew members of the Niko Ivanka cargo ship after it sank off the coast of Liberia last Saturday.

The Liberian-registered vessel left the capital Monrovia on 17 July for a port in the West African country’s south, despite being under a detention order for failing to meet basic safety requirements.

It sent out a distress signal that afternoon, notifying the coastguard that it had taken on water. By the time authorities arrived, it had already partially sunk.

Eighteen people were on the ship’s manifest, 11 of whom had been rescued during a 36-hour search, head of the Liberia Maritime Authority, Eugene Nagbe, told reporters on Sunday.

But those rescued said that there were in fact about 28 people on board, leaving 17 missing.

On Monday, Sea Shepherd announced they had rescued a man 49 hours after the ship sank.

The precise number of passengers remains unknown, deputy information minister Jarlaywah Tonpoe told Reuters.

“The vessel was not a passenger-authorised vessel and yet it had passengers on board,” Mr Tonpoe said.

It was not clear how or why the ship was able to leave harbour or whether it was carrying any cargo at the time. The vessel’s owner, a Chinese national, was arrested on Sunday afternoon, Mr Nagbe said.

Among those listed on the manifest were a Swedish captain, a Chinese crew member, and nine members of West Africa’s regional school examinations body.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Several high-profile websites including HSBC, Airbnb and British Airways hit by outages | Science & Tech News

Published

on

The websites of several high-profile companies including HSBC, Airbnb and British Airways appear to have been hit by outages.

A message on the BA website read: “Service Unavailable – DNS failure. The server is temporarily unable to service your request. Please try again later.”

And a message on Airbnb’s site said: “This site can’t be reached.”

HSBC’s website had a similar message.

It is not known what has caused the issues.

And there are reports other airlines and major companies are also affected, as well as the 911 service on the east coast of the US.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending