You're as guilty as anyone else of spreading fake news: study
Researchers find tweeters are more interested in being first than in being correct
Only a fraction of social media users seek to check whether information is correct before sharing it, according to a new study on fake news.
Researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York found that 86 to 91% of users spread false news, either by retweeting or ”liking” the original post, and only five to nine percent sought to confirm the false news, by retweeting and asking whether the information was correct.
Only one to nine percent expressed doubt, often by saying the original tweet was not 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,” researchers found.
“Less than 10% of the users who spread the false news deleted their erroneous retweet and less than 20% of the same users clarified the false tweet with a new tweet.”The research team said the findings were important because it showed how easily people can be deceived during times when they are most vulnerable.
Johannesburg social media analyst Yavi Madurai said the fake news phenomenon was particularly strong during the “Jacob Zuma/Gupta” era.
“When people share fake news, it’s actually shared based on the headline and not the actual content.”
Madurai said it was a case of, “I want to be seen as the person who is putting the information out there first”.
“They don’t realise the consequences of their actions. It’s a huge concern that people don’t actually read the content, they just click and share.
“I’ve seen fake stories sometimes trending on Twitter. Social media users must realise that they need to verify the information before putting out in cyberspace,” Madurai added.