Study Suggests Trump is Right to Call the Media “Fake News”

President Donald Trump continues to call out journalists and the media for what he terms “fake news,” and a new MIT study lends credence to the claim that fake news is a pervasive force in this country. But, the truth may exist in a slightly different context from that used by the president.

A study of tweets circulated on Twitter from 2006 through 2016 seems to confirm that rumor and falsehood spread like wildfire, reaching more people and “penetrating deeper into the social network” than accurate reports. The research was conducted at MIT, and only addresses news spread via Twitter, but it has implications for other media organizations and consequences that reach far beyond the political realm. Researchers noted that falsehoods were 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than the truth.

The study examined every major contested news story in English that appeared on Twitter during the 10-year period. The spread of more than 126,000 original tweets was tallied and classified based on whether or not they were true.

An article in The Atlantic, penned by staff writer Robinson Meyer, details the comprehensive findings. Meyer notes: “In short, social media seems to systematically amplify falsehood at the expense of the truth, and no one—neither experts nor politicians nor tech companies—knows how to reverse that trend. It is a dangerous moment for any system of government premised on a common public reality.”

He also notes that a group of 16 social scientists have called for additional interdisciplinary research to “redesign our information ecosystem in the 21st Century.” These political scientists and legal scholars agree that the goal should be “to reduce the spread of fake news and to address the underlying pathologies it has revealed.”

The Pervasive Effects of Social Media

The major conclusion of the MIT research is that truth and accuracy have largely been sacrificed for “engagement” and transmission speed. The study was confined to tweets made available to the researchers with the cooperation of Twitter. Findings, backed up by damning statistics, present a methodical indictment of a “news” culture that increasingly focuses on false, misleading, sensational and provocative content.

Among the findings that are presented:

  • False stories outperform the truth across all subject areas, but political falsehoods are especially virulent.
  • “A false story reaches 1,500 people six times quicker, on average, than a true story does.”
    Falsehoods “go viral” much faster and more often than truth.
  • “Twitter users seem almost to prefer sharing falsehoods.”
  • Bots (or robotically directed actions) share the truth in the same proportion as falsehoods.
  • The conclusion is overwhelming: Humans are responsible for spreading fake news. The reasons, however, are not so easily determined. And definitions of news, truth and accuracy are still more difficult.

    The researchers say that city lockdowns following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 served as “trigger” for the study. It was born of personal experience in an effort to shed light on “the mess of information” that surrounds such news events. Vosoughi, then a student, says that Twitter became his “lifeline” to the outside world during the time he was confined to his own home, adding that some of what was passed along was true, some was false, much of it was misleading, and he was powerless to know the difference.

    The Personality of News

    Why do falsehoods spread so fast? Two hypotheses are formulated by the researchers:

    First, fake news possesses a novelty that “real” news stories often do not have; and, secondly, fake news tweets “evoke more emotion than the average tweet.” The result is that retweeting chains of fake news become substantially longer and more influential than reality.

    The motivation for the study was personal, but the results are termed “robust” and astounding. They seem to confirm that anyone who is interested in real news, whether about politics, personalities, world affairs or the latest crime may not be served well by Twitter, or by social media, for information.

    The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

    Truth and accuracy, it seems, are hard to assess in today’s world and, as one of the researchers makes clear, there are no easy fixes. As Meyer explains: “On platforms where every user is at once a reader, a writer, and a publisher, falsehoods are too seductive not to succeed: The thrill of novelty is too alluring, the titillation of disgust too difficult to transcend.”

    The question that remains is whether traditional journalism and the mainstream media are any better at separating fact from falsehood, and whether or not the public can, indeed, find the truth in the news of the day. President Trump suggests journalists may know better but choose to report misinformation anyway. At this point, his guess is as good as ours.

    ~ Conservative Zone


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    24 responses to “Study Suggests Trump is Right to Call the Media “Fake News””

    1. We really did not need anything to know that the News is as President Trump has Stated Fake News, It’s beyond Obvious.

    2. tHE EASIEST AND MOST EFFECTIVE MEDIA PROGRAM WOULD BE TO EXTEND LIBEL LAWS TO MEDIA AND USE THEM TO COST THE LIARS $

      • It does not mater about tweets… it is the MSM that should be held to a greater standard. And any lies should be FINED HEAVILY….. And BIASES should only be seen in OP-EDS

    3. FAKE NEWS MUST BE EXPOSED AND/OR EXPOSED TIMELY… IF NOT THE MEDIA’S FAKE NEWS MUST BE PROVEN AS OUTRIGHT LIES AND SHOULD NOT BE CREEDABLE .. ALL MEDIA NEWS WILL BECOME WORTHLESS….

      • joseph Stalin came out and said it very plainly: I could care less about truth;but, control of the press (world media) is Paramount. Take hollywood at all costs.

    4. the study was a forgone conclusion , it was so obvious it was pitiful to find that the conclusion as REAL .

    5. All anyone has to do is watch the news, you see more negative news then positive news. People just like to hear bad news over good, uplifting news. So if there is news, good or bad, people are more likely to spread the bad news. The media, right now, will report a mass shooting over a mass bombing.

    6. It’s about time fake news was brought to all the the Americans attention.CNN is the worst I hope to loose there license,maybe that would wake them up,I want to hear facts not maybe or lies,get up of your ass and find the facts

    7. The previous responses are a great illustration of how susceptible some people are to “fake news” and to fervently believing what they want to believe, ie., info that is consistent with their beliefs and biases. The MIT study did not, repeat did not, assess the mainstream media. The focus was on one segment of social media. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to hear what previous research has shown regarding whether the “left” or the “right” trafficks in more fake news. Hint: it isn’t the left.

    8. I personally do not like hearing all the negative news. I think there should be a stations called ” Good News Today”. If i were financially capable I would host it. Have an 800 number for everyone to call in from across the nation and the world with the last nugget of Good News that they know of. Good News makes you feel better. Negative news just makes it feel like the whole world and all in it are bad.

    9. I saw before mr trump won their were hardly any liberals on facebook but now that someone else has bought it they send me lies to read i just trash them but its the worst i have ever seen it makes me sick these people done some much wrong in the obama administration that they would do and say anything to get mr trump out knowing that that would cause alot of people to get killed and send america into a civil war that would make the first one look like childs play

    10. you KNOW its FAKE news when FaceBook has BAND posting this article , l tried 3 times and was told if l tried to post it anymore I would be band for 30 days . so l,m gonna try again by do,in the cut copy & paste instead of posting the LINK that is band

    11. Of course Trump is right for calling it fake news, that’s what it is!!! But what would really help our president’s administration is if we had true republicans supporting him instead of having a bunch of RINOS that claim that they are republicans!!! And also those republicans that are holier then thou that will go against their own party’s president over some split hairs!!! As far as I’m concerned these “republicans” are no better then socialist democrats!!!

    12. Fake news? How unkind is that? The media would prefer to call it creative journalism. They desire the freedom to mold the narrative and dictate policy. They want the freedom to decide what the public need and does not need to know. They believe themselves to be smarter than the average American citizen and it is their responsibility to tells how and what to think. Whatever happened to objective reporting?

    13. I have never bought into the Facebook phenomena or Twitter. It is much too easy for people to hide behind the anonymous shield of this system. I know some claim Facebook is a way to share family news with friends and post personal pictures for private purposes. But a lot of sites are open to anyone who wants to view or read their posts. That invites many people with bad intentions to add unkind remarks or use pictures from one account for evil. Some people put way too much personal information on their accounts. It is dangerous and very unwise. What does this have to do with Fake News? It was the beginning of the public accepting posting of information that used to be too personal to talk about. There used to be limits on what was discussed about people but now anything goes. The more ugly and disgusting the subject is, the more people want to read it. It doesn’t matter if it is true. Who cares? The nation’s moral compass is broken and the boundaries that religion and wholesome family beliefs used to define are being eroded by the liberal attitude that says anything is acceptable now. The MSM is both following this decline and leading it at the same time. Journalists no longer have any self control or pride in their reporting. It matters not if a story is true, it just has to garner the “clicks” and sensational attention. Why not rename newspapers and MSM as fiction. That would be the most honest thing they would have done in the last fifty years. MSM has supported the Deep State for at least that long. We have been warned repeatedly about their behind the scenes activity. Even John F. Kennedy warned us right up to a week before he was killed. We have lost at least one generation to this plague of Facebook, Twitter, lying MSM, and especially to Academia. It sickens me to see and hear about the ridiculous “teachings” going on in Universities and Colleges all over the country. Recently, even High Schools and some Middle Schools are trying to indoctrinate our children in the outrageous ultra liberal beliefs that are destroying our future. The liberalization of academia is an immediate danger to society. God help us all.

    14. If the MSM would “return” to Fact based reporting instead of Sensationalism based reporting, would be a great start. Slanting the story to make a “big splash” in the minds of viewers and readers needs to stop right now. Stick to the truth, its not as sensational, usually, than slanted news pieces but it sure would increase confidence in MSM again for “unbiased” information.

    15. that will never happen……the Dems love it and reinforce it….the Right needs to know that they are losing even if they are somewhat more righteous and correct….Pres. Trump only makes things worse with his tweets not that i look at anything on twitter or FB …
      But the truth is we are losing and if that is not owned we will never come back to righteousness unless some other strategy is developed and fast.
      Fox just talks and talks and talks……yet Hillary and Obama are out there making speeches and swaying people…no one from the Right is doing that….
      I don’t mean to be negative but look at the facts…..people can yell and scream in their comments on Conservative articles but it does no good at all….

    16. My previous comment was meant towards another comment which I can’t find right now so it doesn’t make sense…..sorry…

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