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True, Untrue Viral News Move Equally Through Twitter

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The finding helps illuminate why certain mitigating strategies to curb disinformation on Twitter have not worked, while also suggesting that the most effective strategy against fake news may begin with users.

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A study found both true and untrue viral news spread through Twitter at the same speed, breadth, and depth, highlighting why attempts to stop disinformation on the platform have had limited success.

Cornell University's Jonas Juul and Stanford University's Johan Ugander focused on the structure of Twitter "cascades," a quantification of viral tweets' paths from the original poster through the network via retweets.

More popular tweets have bigger cascades, and the researchers analyzed cascades of the same size, implying that true and untrue tweets reached about the same number of users.

Cascades of equally shared true and untrue tweets were virtually identical, changing the prevailing notion that untrue tweets travel faster.

The researchers said this would limit disinformation countermeasures like flagging viral tweets with long diffusion patterns, or deprioritizing major hubs in news feeds; they suggested better digital literacy among users would be more effective.

From Cornell Chronicle
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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