THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
A recent story reported by NPR delved deep into how news spreads on Twitter. Specifically, how fast the truth travels compared to lies. What does this say about our culture? What does is it say about people? Well, I have a few ideas...
A study recently done by MIT experts tracked 126,000 news stories on Twitter and found that lies travel much faster than the truth. According to one professor from MIT, false stories on Twitter are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true ones.
The difference between the lies told 50 years ago and the ones told now are the incredible speeds at which they travel. This certainly brings up the issue if such platforms are suited for news at all. All social media platforms give people a voice to speak freely, whether it's true or not true.
Twitter says it will work out the problem, but Twitter is not the only place where lies spread like wildfire. Facebook is a place where a person can present themselves in any way they like, be it true or not true. They can say whatever they like, be it true or not true. I think this problem needs to be looked at from other angles as well. Like the reason why lies spread so much faster than the truth. Is it to get as many retweets as possible, or "likes" clicked? Is it because humans are programmed to react with emotion instead of logic?
What worries me the most is how many people it goes through before someone stops and thinks about it before they re-tweet it or re-post a false story. Things move so fast now, and people are bombarded with bombshells every day of the week, it seems hard to keep the facts straight. It feels like a game of telephone on a grand scale.
I don't know if Twitter or any other social media outlet is a good place to get news. Not only that, but the bias that exists today is so deeply ingrained it seems every story has some kind of "spin" on it.
Not only that, but our society moves so fast now that by the time someone gets a chance to think critically about a story in the news it has long been pushed to the bottom of the news feed. Every day feels harder and harder to actually know what the truth is, and it gets harder to trust that someone will give you the truth.