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Information Cascades and Social Media

Today’s technology has made it far more simple to learn about current events and discover new information that might not have been easily accessible years ago. Although this calls for celebration, there are issues that arise as a result of people believing everything that can be found on the internet. There are an array of news, blogs and social media sites that provide users with said information, but no way of fact checking or verifying the source. Interestingly enough, there was a study done earlier this year that looked into the rate at which false/true news spread over Twitter. Their findings were that “False news reached more people than the truth”. The researchers described the idea that false stories inflict fear or surprise while true stories demonstrated anticipation and trust.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6380/1146

This study is a good example of how information cascades are constantly being formed. One is able to suspect that the spreading of false news is a mere act of users sharing information based off of others responses rather than their very own opinions. It is often the case that if news were to be trending, people would not hesitate in sharing it based on the assumption that if the masses are sharing it, then it must be true. This misconception has become a prominent issue in this day and age and we will continue to see it in a political, financial, and social context.

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