Last week, we featured Twitter’s engagement and credibility problems and how, if untreated, may spell the platform’s demise. This week we review the dynamics of rumor-sharing.

Social media has democratized the act of disseminating information to a wide audience and in real time. While this dilutes the monopoly held by media companies, it suffers from a general lack in quality: less fact-checking, more biases, and virtually devoid of a journalistic code of ethics. This makes social media the ideal platform for spreading rumors.

Facebook rumors
250,000 comments, 62 million shares, 17,000 cascades

A quantitative study of rumours on Facebook by Facebook, however, found that the truth does matter. In general, there are more false rumors. 62% of rumors were tagged as false by Snopes, an online resource used to validate or debunk rumors in American popular culture. On the other hand, true rumors are more viral. True rumors generally result in larger cascades, with 163 shares per upload on average against 108 for false rumors.

When reshares are verified as false, most users react by deleting the reshare. However, given the speed that the rumor is spread, the subsequent propagation of the rumor is largely unaffected. Perhaps Facebook should introduce a feature to allow users to delete not just the reshare, but subsequent reshares as well.

Read the full article here.

This week, we feature the best articles on limitations of Big Data. In particular, Tim Harford makes an excellent case on why correlation does not equal causation.

Image credit: Flickr

 

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