Sunday, August 14, 2016

Data Mining Reveals How Conspiracy Theories Emerge on Facebook

Quattrociocchi and co then studied how the people who engage in these debates also engage in debates on posts that are known to be untrue, like the one about the fictitious law. And they found that some people are more likely to engage with false content than others.

In particular, people who engage with debates on alternative news posts are much more likely to engage in the debate about false news posted by trolls. “We find that a dominant fraction of the users interacting with the troll memes is the one composed of users preeminently interacting with alternative information sources–and thus more exposed to unsubstantiated claims,” they say.

That’s an interesting result. Quattrociocchi and co point out that many people are attracted to alternative news media because of a distrust of conventional news sources, which, in Italy, are strongly influenced by politicians of one persuasion or another.

But this search for other sources of news seems to be fraught with danger. “Surprisingly, consumers of alternative news, which are the users trying to avoid the mainstream media ‘mass-manipulation’, are the most responsive to the injection of false claims,” they conclude.

- More Here

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