- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2018

President Trump is not the only one to fret about the reach and influence of fake news.

Citing “worldwide concern over false news,” researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spent two years analyzing 126,000 rumors, stories and reports which circulated on Twitter for over a decade. They revealed a simple truth, and one which may come as no surprise to the public.

“Lies spread faster than truth,” the study said.

Fake news travels much faster than real, information-driven news — up to six times faster. It also influences far more people.

Accurate stories typically reach about 1,000 readers. Fake news can reach up to 100,000 in the same amount of time. The faux stuff was also 70 percent more likely to be retweeted — and not by online “bots” either. The spread of fake news was selectively done by human users eager to share their often sensational finds.

“Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information,” the researchers wrote in their lengthy analysis.

“We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information. Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust, and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust,” the researchers said in their analysis.

The study was published Thursday in Science, an academic journal.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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