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90% of 'active' Twitterati spread falsehoods during disasters: Study

IANS  |  New York 

Nearly 90 per cent of Twitter's 'active' users tend to spread falsehoods in the case of public emergencies or disasters, a study of more than 20,000 tweets has found.

The researchers found that 86 to 91 per cent of the users spread false news, either by retweeting or "liking" the original post.

Five to nine per cent sought to confirm the false news, typically by retweeting and asking if the information was correct, while one to nine per cent expressed doubt, often by saying the original tweet was not accurate.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate how apt users are at debunking falsehoods during disasters. Unfortunately, the results paint a less than flattering picture," said lead Jun Zhuang, at the in New

"These findings are important because they show how easily people are deceived during times when they are most vulnerable and the role platforms play in these deceptions," Zhuang added.

The study, published in the journal Natural Hazards, examined four false rumours -- two each from the marathon and hurricane, including an infamous falsehood about Stock Exchange flooding.

The team examined three types of behaviour. users could either spread the false news, seek to confirm it, or cast doubt upon it.

Even after the false news had been debunked on and traditional news media outlets, the study found that less than 10 per cent of the users who spread the false news deleted their erroneous retweet.

Less than 20 per cent of the same users clarified the false tweet with a new tweet.

However, "it's (also) possible that many people saw these tweets, decided they were inaccurate and chose not to engage," Zhuang said.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, May 12 2018. 12:38 IST