Wed Jan 9, 2019, 11:21 PM

Oft-quoted paper on spread of fake news turns out to befake news

The authors of an much-ballyhooed 2017 paper about the spread of fake news on social media have retracted their article after finding that they’d botched their analysis.

The paper, “Limited individual attention and online virality of low-quality information,” presented an argument for why bogus facts seem to gain so much traction on sites such as Facebook. According to the researchers — — from Shanghai Institute of Technology, Indiana University and Yahoo — the key was in the sheer volume of bad information, which swamps the brain’s ability to discern the real from the merely plausible or even the downright ridiculous, competing with limited attention spans and time.

As they reported:

"Our main finding is that survival of the fittest is far from a foregone conclusion where information is concerned."

Put another way:

"quality and popularity of information are weakly correlated …"

Not surprisingly, the article, which appeared in Nature Human Behaviour, received considerable media attention, including coverage in Smithsonian, Ars Technica and many other outlets. And it has continued to serve as fodder for articles about the spread of lies in cyberspace.

But as the retraction notice, dated January 7, 2019, indicates, the study had major flaws. It turns out that fake news does not spread as wildfire-y as the real McCoy:

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Reply Oft-quoted paper on spread of fake news turns out to befake news (Original post)
Troll2 Jan 2019 OP
Gamle-ged Jan 2019 #1

Response to Troll2 (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2019, 11:38 PM

1. I'll assume that DU was not part of the study, otherwise the speed and ease of fake news spread...

... would have been sustained, rather than having required retraction...

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