Study Shows Facebook Spreads Misinformation Faster Than Any Other Social Media Platform

Misinformation is more novel than the facts which might be the reason people share fake news much faster. Social media platforms have become home to millions of automated bots both good and bad. A new study published in Nature journal stated that Facebook has become the worst platform when it comes to the expansion of fake news in comparison to Google, Twitter, and webmail providers such as Yahoo! and Gmail.

Andrew Guess of Princeton University with a team of researchers tracked the internet usage of 3000 Americans. They found that Facebook refers to untrustworthy news source 15% of the time in contrast to referring trustworthy news source 6% of the time. Facebook holds the record of hosting the most number of social bots numbering up to 140 million while Twitter and Instagram having 23 million and 27 million bots respectively.

Changing a person’s voting decision is a difficult task. Another study shows that around 1 to 3 people out of every 10K change their voting choice after reading political news or watching a political advertisement. People most likely visit those sites providing fake news to confirm already existing beliefs. The researchers also found out that fake news does not replace the appetite for hard news.

Fake news favoring Donald Trump was shared 30 million times that is nearly quadruple the number of pro-Clinton shares leading up to the election, says Stanford economist Matthew Gentzkow. The researchers also concluded that 57% of Trump supporters visited at least one fake news in comparison to Clinton supporters which is 28%. Psychology says that mere exposure to fake news makes it spread. This might be due to the ‘stickiness’ of fake news as the researchers have estimated that a person spends an average of 64 seconds reading a fake news article compared to an average of 42 seconds on verified articles. A recent study shows that the illusory truth effect is in play when reading a fake news article repeatedly.

Although we need more research to know to which extent fake news can influence people’s opinion, the researchers conclude that the relation between unauthorized website consumption and voter choice is statistically imprecise; we can only exclude large effects.

Facebook is on top of other social platforms in spreading fake news. And the company needs to work faster to prevent the spread of misinformation.

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