SPOTLIGHT ON DIGITAL MISINFORMATION
Lies Spread Faster than Truth…
Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab looked at 126,000 rumours spread on Twitter between 2006 and 2017. The bad news? Lies spread faster than truth and reach more people. The good news? Present your facts with emotion and novelty and they may spread at the same rate.
… and it’s (partly) your fault
Slate digs into the MIT research highlighting the constant struggle against our human nature. Who doesn’t love the thrill of being the first to break news to 500 of your closest friends? Combine this with the nature of Twitter: it’s explicitly built to share information rapidly, and does little to incentivize people to verify the truth of what they’re sharing. In fact, you’re more likely to be rewarded with piles of retweets for spreading lies than you are for spreading truths.. (On that note, you might want to follow us on Twitter...Too soon?)
The authors explain more in the New York Times.
In Brazil, the only thing spreading faster than Yellow Fever is misinformation: “when people share these videos or news stories within their social networks as personal messages, it changes the calculus of trust. ‘We are transitioning from a society that experienced truth based on facts to a society based on its experience of truth in intimacy, in emotion, in closeness.’"
When WhatsApp’s Fake News Threatens Public Health
We’re in the midst of a WhatsApp propaganda age, where end-to-end encryption can make tracking down or fact-checking the original sources next to impossible. And beyond Yellow Fever in Brazil, misinformation has impacted work against Polio in Pakistan, measles in India, and even created rumours of a salmonella outbreak in Malaysia. It’s not all bad though, in Zambia. Since 60% of health facilities are run by a single nurse, WhatsApp allows them to connect with others to quickly resolve doubts, even during clinical emergencies. A similar model is also being used in Kenya.