Fake news is nothing new but, since the rise of social media, it’s become more prolific and spreads faster. In fact, fake news stories are 70% more likely to spread than real news. Why is that?
Fake news travels faster than true news
Numerous recent studies have shown that disinformation – in various forms, whether that’s via blogs or news stories – seems to get more views than true news. A 2018 study by students at MIT showed that Tweets containing falsehoods reach 1500 people on Twitter six times faster than truthful tweets. And this is not because it’s being spread by bots. It’s actually going viral because people are sharing the stories.
This is down to a number of reasons. Fake news tends to be more novel and elicit stronger emotions, whether that’s greater surprise or disgust. These intense emotional reactions trigger people to share the news.
And, in this day and age of continuous scrolling, people’s attention spans are getting shorter and it’s getting easier to share information. People often share without checking the facts, or even thinking about whether the story makes sense.
Fake news has consequences
This can have serious consequences. Over the last few years we’ve already seen how the spread of misinformation can affect elections, or endanger people’s lives. Fake news can also have an impact on businesses too, from impacting brand reputation to reducing the share price.
Tackling the spread of misinformation among your employees
To ensure that your company doesn’t fall victim to the spread of false news, it’s important to train your employees to identify it:
- Avoid stories with red flags, such as hyperbolic headlines and the absence of credible sources
- Read beyond the headline. Often people are drawn in by click-bait headlines, but fail to read the full article which might actually say something different, or show it to be untrue
- Only share news stories from reputable sources
- If you’re unsure whether a story is true, cross-check it with other more credible sources