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Twitter’s Different? A Lie Can Run Around The World Before The Truth Has Got Its Boots On

There is much shock and indignation at the manner in which fake news spreads upon Twitter. No doubt another argument to be used in favour of regulation of what people can post upon Twitter – and do understand that this argument is already being floated. Yet there’s a problem here which is that why does anyone think that this form of communication is going to be any different from all those that humans have used before?

False information spreads much faster and farther than the truth on Twitter-and although it is tempting to blame automated “bot” programs for this, human users are more at fault.

At least someone’s got it right, this is about humans, not technology. It never was the news that Jenner dealt with smallpox which ran across the gossip networks, it was the insistence that some bird in Slumpton – Slumpton being identified as the location more often the further the speaker was from Slumpton – had given birth to kittens that did.

“Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it,” wrote Jonathan Swift in 1710. Now a group of scientists say they have found evidence Swift was right – at least when it comes to Twitter.

Why would anyone be surprised given that it’s still humans that we’re talking about?

Who is to blame for spreading false rumours online? A new study suggests it’s not just the bots. It’s us.

False news spread “farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly” than true news on Twitter between 2006 and 2017, a team of US scientists has found.

Their study, published today in the journal Science, is one of the largest long-term investigation of fake news on social media ever conducted.

We could have worked this out – indeed most of us did – without the intervention of the social scientists. For the one great finding in all of those social sciences is that stereotypes are largely true. Or at least that there’s a truth at the heart of them.

Now, I prefer Sir Pterry’s version of Twain’s comment about truth, shoes and boots but as we can see above Swift scooped both of them by a couple of centuries at least. It’s simply not a surprise, or shouldn’t be, that lies, falsehoods and straight good gossip travel faster than truth. Simply because that’s how us humans work and as far as we know always have.

Seriously, get over it, Twitter is just humans being humans. Anyone surprised by their behaviour there is betraying that they’ve not met any actual humans. But then I’d generally argue that’s true of most social scientists and all snowflakes.

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6 years ago

Equally “surprising” that Twitter and Facebook are as biased as any of the old media, that no one can agree on which news is fake nor assemble an unbiased panel to review it, or that government puts itself forward as the solution. Nothing does change under the sun.

So Much For Subtlety
So Much For Subtlety
6 years ago

Governments have been rattled by the idea that people can win elections with social media. Trump talked over the top of the mainstream media via Twitter.

They are determined to make sure that does not happen again. We can only know what has been approved by our Elders and Betters. For instance, a media campaign pointing out how many Leftists in the Democrat party have been praising Farakhan has forced even the New York Times to cover this story. Yet this was known for years. The media was happy to cover up Obama’s friendly ties with the man.

Hector Drummond
6 years ago

I’ll take a look at the article at some stage, but I think this will be very distorted. Consider cricket news. True cricket scores propagate all around the web at lightning speed to millions of people, all the time. Try spreading a false rumour about a cricket score — say you put on Twitter that Joe Root put himself onto bowl and he took ten wickets — and it won’t get far.

False news spreading quickly is mainly confined to political areas. That’s one limitation we can state right from the start.

Mr Ecks
Mr Ecks
6 years ago

Marxist scum looking for more propaganda access and to cut off anti-left views. Twitter is already on that game so any cod outrage about fake news is factitious.

6 years ago

Same conclusions at the end of this otherwise interesting and informative article:

‘Someone’ has to decide for us.

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