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Majority Of Fake News On Twitter Spread By Tiny Fraction Of Users: Study

Lazer's team found that among people they categorized as left-leaning and centrists, less than 5 percent shared any fake information.

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Twitter, tweets, India
The Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA

A tiny fraction of Twitter users spread the vast majority of fake news in 2016, with conservatives and older people sharing misinformation more, a new study finds.

Scientists examined more than 16,000 U.S. Twitter accounts and found that 16 of them — less than one-tenth of 1 percent — tweeted out nearly 80 percent of the misinformation masquerading as news, according to a study Thursday in the journal Science. About 99 percent of the Twitter users spread virtually no fake information in the most heated part of the election year, said study co-author David Lazer, a Northeastern University political and computer science professor.

Spreading fake information “is taking place in a very seamy but small corner of Twitter,” Lazer said.

Lazer said misinformation “super sharers” flood Twitter: an average of 308 pieces of fakery each between Aug. 1 and Dec. 6 in 2016.

And it’s not just that few people are spreading it — few people are reading it, Lazer said.

Twitter CEO
This April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. According to a study released Jan. 24, 2019, a tiny fraction of Twitter users spread the vast majority of fake news in 2016, with conservatives and older people sharing misinformation more. VOA

“The vast majority of people are exposed to very little fake news despite the fact that there’s a concerted effort to push it into the system,” Lazer said.

The researchers found the 16,442 accounts they analyzed by starting with a random pool of voter records, matching names to Twitter users and then screening out accounts that appeared to not be controlled by real people.

Their conclusions are similar to those of a study released earlier this month that looked at the spread of false information on Facebook. It also found that few people shared fakery, but those who did were more likely to be over 65 and conservatives.

Boost to credibility

That makes this study more believable, because two groups of researchers using different social media platforms, measuring political affiliation differently and with different panels of users came to the same conclusion, said Yonchai Benkler, co-director of Harvard Law School’s center on the internet and society. He wasn’t part of either study but praised them, saying they should reduce misguided postelection panic about how “out-of-control technological processes had rendered us as a society incapable of telling truth from fiction.”

Experts say a recent showdown between Kentucky Catholic school students and a Native American elder at the Lincoln Memorial seemed to be stoked by a single, now-closed Twitter account. Lazer said the account fit some characteristics of super sharers from his study but it was more left-leaning, which didn’t match the study.

Social media
An illustration picture shows a man starting his Twitter app on a mobile device in Hanau near Frankfurt. VOA

Unlike the earlier Facebook study, Lazer didn’t interview the people but ranked people’s politics based on what they read and shared on Twitter.

The researchers used several different sources of domains for false information masquerading as news — not individual stories but overall sites — from lists compiled by other academics and BuzzFeed. While five outside experts praised the study, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, head of the public policy center at the University of Pennsylvania, found several problems, especially with how they determined fake information sites.

Also Read: Social Media Giants Facebook, Twitter Face Action From Russia Over Legal Violations

Lazer’s team found that among people they categorized as left-leaning and centrists, less than 5 percent shared any fake information. Among those they determined were right-leaning, 11 percent of accounts shared misinformation masquerading as news. For those on the extreme right, it was 21 percent.

This study shows “most of us aren’t too bad at circulating information, but some of us are determined propagandists who are trying to manipulate the public sphere,” said Texas A&M University’s Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of political rhetoric who wasn’t part of the study. (VOA)

Next Story

List of Best Penny Marijuana Stocks

As interesting and profitable as marijuana stocks are, they are still mostly penny stocks, the fact that making money off of this little green plant is still considered illegal in countries

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marijuana, cannabis, penny stocks, stocks, USA, investment
Marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, California, Aug. 15, 2019. VOA

As interesting and profitable as marijuana stocks are, they are still mostly penny stocks. This probably has something to do with the fact that making money off of this little green plant is still considered illegal in countries like the United States.

We know some states are changing their laws, but nothing has changed federally just yet. This means investors have to deal with cash most of the time, and sometimes, they can’t take advantage of certain tax deductions. The money made from this industry cannot always be used to open a bank account.

As you can see, there are many obstacles to overcome in this industry.

Some of these factors make it even more important for potential investors to pay attention to the penny stocks they do take a chance on. The following is a list of some of the best penny stocks available today.

1. InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc

When it comes to drug development and commercialization, there are only a few companies that can be compared to this company.

InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. focuses on Cannabinoids, and they have invested a lot of time and effort into developing the therapeutic aspects of marijuana.

One thing the company is pretty proud of is the bioinformatics assessment tool. This tool allows technicians to figure out if a specific cannabinoid could address certain ailments.

The possibilities with this kind of targeted treatment are endless, which is attracting a number of investors around the globe.

marijuana, penny stocks, stocks, USA, investment
There is also the Aleafia Health stock that focuses on growing
and promoting medical cannabis clinics all around the US. Pixabay

At the moment, it seems like the company has made significant progress towards dealing with Epidermolysis bullosa, glaucoma, and it has also been working hard to address joint and muscle pains.

2. American Cannabis Company Inc.

The American Cannabis Company Inc. is considered the go-to company for entrepreneurs in the United States who are attempting to get into the business of selling marijuana.

Everyone knows that the business is setting itself up for a major boom in the coming years, even though it is already quite profitable.

This company understands that entrepreneurs don't always understand everything there is to know about cannabis, such as marketing it and navigating the current environment surrounding marijuana sales.

The American Cannabis Company Inc. is here to provide counsel, thanks to years of experience in the industry. It is here to provide marketing tools, branding information, and even help with staffing if needed.

Those interested in one of the best penny marijuana stocks out there should definitely pay close attention to this stock.

3. Auxly Cannabis Group

The Auxly Cannabis Group is an important company to watch out for. It is considered a cannabis royalty company, and the reason investors should keep an eye on it is because it is focused on helping growers start or expand their capacity.

If the marijuana industry is set to explode as more countries accept its usage, then there is going to be a need for growers who can provide.

Of course, the company does not only help other growers; it has also purchased its own farms as well.

marijuana, penny stocks, stocks, USA, investment
As interesting and profitable as marijuana stocks are, they are still mostly penny stocks. Pixabay

Projections say that these farms may end up producing up to 170,000 kilograms of marijuana in 2019 and the following year. Those kind of numbers have instilled the kind of faith any company wants to instill in possible investors.

4. Plus Products Inc.

Edibles are going to be an important part of the marijuana industry. These little things are fun, and people are loving them. At the moment, Plus Products Inc. is considered one of the fastest growing edible companies.

It continues to produce the kind of edibles that people want, hitting great numbers. Some of their best-selling edibles have seen great staying power and fend off competition.

It is safe to say that this company is putting a lot of work into the products they produce to make sure customers are happy.

It is currently selling its edibles in California, and that means the rest of the country is ripe for the picking, which means the potential for growth is undeniable.

ALSO READ: Daily Cannabis Use May Increase Risk of Psychosis

Plus Products Inc. is actually developing an even bigger facility that is going to be able to handle even more orders. It is safe to say that the company is foreseeing a huge spike in demand within the coming months or few short years. Investors interested in the the long game should definitely give this stock a try.

Of course, these are just some of the stocks that investors should keep an eye on, but there are more, such as MariMed Inc. that is more of an all-in-one consulting firm helping dispensaries and other players in the industry. There is also the Aleafia Health stock that focuses on growing and promoting medical cannabis clinics all around the US.

As mentioned earlier, the key here is to make sure each investor pays attention to each stock and what the company is attempting to do. We think one should only invest in a stock when the investor feels he or she can make an informed decision.