Misinformation on Twitter is being spread rapidly according to new research

The majority of Twitter users are spreading false news by retweeting or liking the content, according to new research from the University at Buffalo, US.

Although it is well known that fake news on Twitter are easily spreading, until now no one had taken a closer look at how much misinformation is being spread. The latest study found that 86% (via retweet) and 91% (via liking a post) of users were sharing false news.

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Meanwhile, 5% to 9% tried to verify false news by retweeting or asking if the information was true.

A mere 1% to 9% said they doubted that the tweet was accurate.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate how apt Twitter users are at debunking falsehoods during disasters. Unfortunately, the results paint a less than flattering picture,” explained Dr Jun Zhuang, associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

However, users are less happy to admit that they were wrong. Once a fake news had been proven to be incorrect, just 10% of users chose to delete their retweet. Fewer than 20% of users clarified the tweet with another one.

The study highlights just how easy it is to manipulate and deceive people using social media.

However, the research also noted that it did not factor in the number of users who had noticed, but not chosen to share a tweet.

“It’s possible that many people saw these tweets, decided they were inaccurate and chose not to engage,” says Zhuang.

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