Wednesday January 29, 2020
Home Lead Story Fake News Spr...

Fake News Spreads Like Wildfire On Social Media

Misinformation can stoke political polarisation and undermine democracy

0
//
Fake news on social media
The researchers noted that efforts to curtail misinformation typically focus on helping people distinguish fact from fiction. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found that people who repeatedly encounter a fake news item may feel less unethical about sharing it on social media, even when they don’t believe the information, according to a new study.

In a series of experiments involving more than 2,500 people, the study published in the journal Psychological Science, found that seeing a fake headline just once leads individuals to temper their disapproval of the misinformation when they see it a second, third, or fourth time.

“The findings have important implications for policymakers and social media companies trying to curb the spread of misinformation online,” said study researcher Daniel A. Effron from the London Business School.

“We suggest that efforts to fight misinformation should consider how people judge the morality of spreading it, not just whether they believe it,” Effron added.

Across five experiments, Effron and researcher Medha Raj asked online survey participants to rate how unethical or acceptable they thought it would be to publish a fake headline, and how likely they would be to “like”, share, and block or unfollow the person who posted it.

As they expected, the researchers found that participants rated headlines they had seen more than once as less unethical to publish than headlines they were shown for the first time.

Fake news
Facebook Adds New Measures to Enforce Targeting Restrictions on Potentially Discriminatory Ad Types. Pixabay

Participants also said they were more likely to ‘like’ and share a previously seen headline and less likely to block or unfollow the person who posted it.

What’s more, they did not rate the previously seen headline as significantly more accurate than the new ones, the researchers said.

The researchers noted that efforts to curtail misinformation typically focus on helping people distinguish fact from fiction.

Facebook, for example, has tried informing users when they try to share news that fact-checkers have flagged as false.

But such strategies may fail if users feel more comfortable sharing misinformation they know is fake when they have seen it before.

The researchers theorise that repeating misinformation lends it a ‘ring of truthfulness’ that can increase people’s tendency to give it a moral pass, regardless of whether they believe it.

ALSO READ: Russia-Backed YouTube Channels Spread Disinformation, Generates Millions of Dollars in Ad Revenue

“The results should be of interest to citizens of contemporary democracies,” Effron said.

“Misinformation can stoke political polarisation and undermine democracy, so it is important for people to understand when and why it spreads,” Effron added. (IANS)

Next Story

Instagram Experiences Highest Outrage While Twitter Reports Least in Q4

The Facebook family of social media sites outage on November 28, 2019 was one of many social outages in Q4 2019

0
Instagram
A combined 34,408 Facebook and Instagram users reported outages. Pixabay

Facebook-owned Instagram experienced the highest outage in the fourth quarter of 2019 with 21,682 reports at the peak on November 28, 2019, while Twitter reported the least amount of outage complaints with 15,952 reports at the peak on October 22, 2019, according to a new report on Tuesday.

The Twitter outage lasted only about a half an hour, leaving unable to tweet, retweet, like tweets or access their account at the peak of the outage, according to the findings by Downdetector, a company which tracks outages in technology platforms and social media sites. Facebook also experienced an outage on November 28 with 12,726 reports at the peak. The outage lasted about five hours and affected users across the globe.

“The Facebook family of social media sites outage on November 28, 2019 was one of many social outages in Q4 2019. The outage lasted about five hours and affected users in the US, Germany, Italy and Spain,” said the report titled “What Went Down? The Most Significant Online Service Outages in Q4 2019”.

“A combined 34,408 Facebook and Instagram users reported outages at the peak of the outage,” it added. Facebook’s Messenger app experienced a smaller outage on November 18, 2019 with 8,952 users reporting outages at the peak.

Instagram
Facebook-owned Instagram experienced the highest outage in the fourth quarter of 2019 with 21,682 reports at the peak on November 28, 2019, while Twitter reported the least amount of outage complaints with 15,952 reports at the peak on October 22, 2019. Pixabay

Snapchat, the popular multimedia messaging app was down for five and a half hours on October 14, 2019, leaving users unable to chat, send or receive photos from their friends. At the peak of the outage, 18,252 users from the US reported problems.

The outage was so significant as the hashtag #SnapchatDown was trending on Twitter at the time of the outage.In the mobile operators category, Vodafone was down for about four hours for thousands of users on October 23, 2019.

ALSO READ: Unit-Linked Insurance Plan- A Perfect Wealth-Building Tool for You

At the peak of the outage, 21,065 users, primarily in Germany, reported having problems with their service, said the report. (IANS)