Research project finds humans, not bots, are primarily responsible for spread of misleading information.
“When we removed all of the bots in our dataset, [the] differences between the spread of false and true news stood,”says Soroush Vosoughi, a co-author of the new paper and a postdoc at LSM whose PhD research helped give rise to the current study. The study provides a variety of ways of quantifying this phenomenon: For instance, false news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are. It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people. When it comes to Twitter’s “cascades,” or unbroken retweet chains, falsehoods reach a cascade depth of 10 about 20 times faster than facts. And falsehoods are retweeted by unique users more broadly than true statements at every depth of cascade.
Falsehoods almost always beat out the truth on Twitter, penetrating further, faster, and deeper into the social network than accurate information.
The massive new study analyzes every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years—and finds that the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor. By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.
“It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information,” said Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at MIT who has studied fake news since 2013 and who led this study. “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.”
As a result, false news travels faster, farther and deeper through the social network than true news. The researchers, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that those patterns applied to every subject they studied, not only politics and urban legends, but also business, science and technology.
Deb Roy, former chief media scientist at Twitter, is engaged in a project to improve the health of the information ecosystem. In fall 2016, Mr. Roy, an associate professor at the M.I.T. Media Lab, became a founder and the chairman of Cortico, a nonprofit that is developing tools to measure public conversations online to gauge attributes like shared attention, variety of opinion and receptivity. The idea is that improving the ability to measure such attributes would lead to better decision-making that would counteract misinformation. Mr. Roy acknowledged the challenge in trying to not only alter individual behavior but also in enlisting the support of big internet platforms like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter, and media companies.
MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW: Twitter wants to reduce the “health” of its conversations to four numbers. Good luck, say experts.
What kind of thermometer do you need to take a social network’s temperature?
What defines a “healthy” conversation? To get people thinking, the company pointed to four principles of public-sphere health developed by Cortico, a research nonprofit working with MIT’s Media Lab. These principles include things like whether the people discussing an issue are using the same facts and how open they are to listening to others’ opinions.
We track health by numbers. Temperature, blood pressure, weight. Completing a hundred sit-ups, eating an apple a day, or chugging three bottles of Soylent in Silicon Valley.
Mr Dorsey's tweetstorm echoed Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg's quest to make his social network a home for "meaningful connections". The companies long motivated by a mission to connect the world now want to prove that the connection can be positive. Cortico, a non-profit connected to MIT, is already doing intriguing work on diagnosing the health of public discourse. It wants to measure the degree of tribalism, shared attention and receptiveness to other opinions online - and then surface new voices and work to bridge tribes.
RECODE: Twitter is wondering whether Twitter is bad for society — and Jack Dorsey is starting new research to find out
“If you want to improve something, you have to be able to measure it,” Dorsey continued. “The human body has a number of indicators of overall health, some very simple, like internal temperature. We know how to measure it, and we know some methods to bring it back in balance.”
It’s not clear how you measure the health of a human interaction (or a human-to-bot interaction), but Dorsey intends to find out. He mentioned Cortico, a nonprofit that proclaims a mission on its website to “foster a healthy public sphere,” as an organization that is inspiring Twitter’s work.
The social network borrowed the four “indicators” from Cortico, a non-profit research organization affiliated with the MIT Media Lab.
Herring says that most of Cortico’s indicators are reasonable, and that it would be possible to craft an empirical study in which they could be measured. For example, one group of researchers could craft a simple study to test whether people are generally talking about the same things by analyzing the key words they use. Researching other questions, like whether users are open to hearing new ideas, might be more difficult to quantify. Herring acknowledged that the social network would need to eventually be more specific in scope, but that it was fine to start with fairly broad questions.
Twitter’s media science chief says machine learning will help journalists understand a world fragmented by digital technologies and political polarization.
What’s needed, he says, is an approach to bridging political and societal divisions. He sees Cortico, a nonprofit he’s launched in collaboration with the Media Lab, as part of that effort. It plans to give existing newsrooms and local news entrepreneurs access to top-class machine learning, natural-language processing, and other tools. Reporters can use them to mine multiple data sources, identify grassroots concerns, and then develop stories that emphasize common ground between citizens with differing political views.
HBO VICE 82: Post Truth News and the microbiome
"Post-Truth News" - The U.S. is more divided across party lines than ever before in recent American history, and nowhere are these divisions more visible than in our media. With President Trump waging a war on mainstream news outlets and the rise of hyperpartisan sites spreading misinformation, trust in the traditional press has fallen to a record low of 32%. VICE Correspondent Isobel Yeung looks at what's driving the media's battle over facts and the polarization of the American public in the Trump era. (TV14) (AC,AL,BN,MV)
MediaShift Podcast #242: Pivots to Video a Mixed Bag; Twitter Doubles Character Count; Cortico’s Deb Roy on AI for Public Good
"There's a lot of potential for leveraging technologies...to tune into signals that may allow an otherwise under-resourced newsroom or journalist to get a sense of what local concerns are.” - Deb Roy on working at Cortico
The Knight Foundation puts $4.5 million into seven projects aiming to restore trust in media, and convenes an all-star Commission in Trust, Media and Democracy. Can they make a difference? Our Metric of the Week is Audience Shrinkage, and Mark speaks with Deb Roy, co-founder of social venture Cortico and Chief Scientist at Twitter, to talk about his efforts to use AI and analytics to create healthier public discourse. All on this week’s MediaShift Podcast!
KNIGHT FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES MAJOR TRUST, MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE TO BUILD A STRONGER FUTURE FOR JOURNALISM
Seven projects focused on improving trust in journalism, increasing news engagement to receive $2.5 million
Cortico | $900,000 | Twitter: corticoAI | Cambridge, Massachusetts: The 2016 election underscored the need to better listen to the voices of people who have gone unheard, to tell their stories and to develop a deeper understanding of a public sphere fragmented by digital technologies and political polarization. Cortico, a new nonprofit led by Deb Roy of the Laboratory for Social Machines at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will build a platform to address these issues, helping newsrooms surface and tell stories that resonate across this fragmented landscape to foster trust, empathy and common ground. Building on its expertise in social media analytics, Cortico will extend its platform to include multiple data sources (national news, syndicated/local talk radio, local news/forums, Wikipedia, survey panels) and to incorporate content and conversations at a local level.
With $4.5 million, Knight is launching a new commission — and funding more new projects — to address declining public trust in media
Knight has also put together a large panel of familiar names from the media to academia to tackle declining public trust in the press and other democratic institutions, with an additional $2 million in support.
“My approach to political investing is the Silicon Valley approach,” Mr. Hoffman, 50, said in an interview. “Find and back powerful entrepreneurs.”
The venture-style investments include starting a new group, Win the Future, whose self-described goal is to make the Democratic Party relevant again. He also invested $1 million in Cortico, a start-up that encourages online discourse between people with opposing political views.
How partisan Twitter users saw and shared different narratives of Charlottesville and the aftermath.
After violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, media coverage differed on what aspect of the event to cover. Using analyses from Cortico and the Laboratory for Social Machines at the MIT Media Lab, we looked at what partisan Twitter users shared during and after the events of Charlottesville. We found a clear split in the story as told through partisan sources.
In an exclusive interview, the CEO of Apple talks about artificial intelligence in iPhones and why he doesn’t want to talk about the future.
Earlier this week, striding across the stage at Apple’s annual developer conference in front of a crowd of thousands at the San Jose Convention Center, Tim Cook was animated and gushing, an evangelist for a series of new products and features.
Recode: Reid hoffman could spend hundreds of millions to fix some of the country's biggest political problems
He’s looking at issues like free speech, political engagement and fake news.
Reid Hoffman is ready and willing to spend potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in his quest to fix some of the country’s lingering political, social and economic ills.
WASHINGTON (AP) — His "FAKE NEWS" tweets don't rocket like they once did. His exclamation points (!) don't excite quite the same old way.
Donald Trump's 140-character volleys helped define the first 100 days of his presidency. But the traction on his medium of choice has slipped a bit as his tone and button-pushing tendencies have cooled.
NEW YORK — They are the 140-character bursts that helped define the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.
But Donald Trump’s tweets seem to be losing some of their impact.
When Donald Trump swept to victory in the Electoral College on Nov. 8, perhaps no group was more surprised than journalists, who had largely bought into the polls showing Hillary Clinton was consistently several percentage points ahead in key swing states.
“What just happened?”