Why Does Fake News Spread Like Wildfire On Social Media? This New Study Has The Answer

Have you ever wondered why false news tends to grab people’s attention more on social media than true authentic facts? If you answered yes, well, you might want to read on as this new study by USC is shedding light on the matter.

Researchers at USC claim to have found one of the largest influencers linked to the spread of fake news. And that has to do with social platforms’ structure linked to sending out rewards for users that habitually share the news.

The report was published this week and it included all of the team’s findings including some key misconceptions about the misinformation that tends to spread fast due to users lacking the crucial thinking skills needed for figuring out the truth and separating it from the likes of falsehood. Then we’ve got factors like strong political beliefs which end up altering the final judgment.

Around 15% of news sharers for this study were themselves stated to be spreading 40% of false news. The researchers were then seen wondering about what really motivates such individuals and it turned out that similar to the likes of video games, social media makes use of rewards systems that encourages people to stay on accounts and continuously post and share data.

Those that like to share and post on a frequent basis, especially news that’s unique and eye-catching are bound to get more attention across the board.

Due to reward-based systems designed for learning across social media apps, so many users form various habits of sharing data that attain recognition from many others. And after such a habit does end up forming, the data gets activated through automatic means, thanks to cues seen across platforms. This is without any users determining a critical response outcome like the spread of misinformation.

Both posting and sharing as well as engaging with so many others on social media may soon turn into a major habit. And findings highlight how such misinformation doesn’t spread through the likes of a deficit of users.

Previous reports have shown us over time how habitual usage of social media is a major driver for misinformation spreading. A lot of users do not tend to process the entire information in a critical manner. So many other people do have opinions that have to do with political biases that alter their ability to find fake tales online. One expert adds that the leading factor in this regard is the huge reward factor that such social media platforms provide for fake news that’s deemed to be irresistible.

In this study,2476 active users on the Facebook platform were taken and they were aged between 18 to 89. They were even compensated for taking part in the survey which lasted around seven minutes.

As a surprise, the researchers found that users’ habits on social media doubled and even tripled the quantity of fake news that was being shared. Their habits were super influential in terms of sharing fake information than all other factors and that entails political beliefs as well as a deficiency in critical reasoning. Those more active on the apps were forwarding fake information six times more than the rest.

Read next: AI Might Be Even More Biased Than People
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