Skip to Content
Tech policy

Fake news spreads faster than the truth, and it’s all our fault

March 8, 2018

Humans are far more at fault than bots for spreading fake news on social media, according to a new study.

The news: MIT Media Lab researchers combed through 11 years of tweets, looking at roughly 126,000 stories tweeted by three million people, to figure out how news spreads. They found that fake news about all kinds of topics travels farther and faster than news that is accurate, but false political news spreads particularly far and wide.

Humans are the worst: The researchers found that robots spread accurate news at the same rate as the fake stuff. That makes them think humans are the reason misinformation gets around more than accurate news.

Why it matters: Social networks are desperately trying to clean up their acts to deal with persistent problems like fake news. (Twitter, in fact, is soliciting proposals to gauge the conversational “health” on its network.) These new results could be helpful in figuring out how to stanch the flow of misinformation online.

Deep Dive

Tech policy

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

security cameraa
security cameraa

The world’s biggest surveillance company you’ve never heard of

Hikvision could be sanctioned for aiding the Chinese government’s human rights violations in Xinjiang. Here’s everything you need to know.

Mifiprex pill
Mifiprex pill

Where to get abortion pills and how to use them

New US restrictions could turn abortion into do-it-yourself medicine, but there might be legal risks.

Women marching at the Supreme Court holding signs
Women marching at the Supreme Court holding signs

The US Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. What does that mean?

The final decision ends weeks of speculation following the leaking of a draft opinion in May, which detailed the Supreme Court’s resolve to strike down the ruling.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.