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Research Establishes 13-Hour Gap Between Viral Misinformation and Correction (thestack.com) 54

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers in China and America will soon launch a platform called Hoaxy, designed to identify and analyze what happens when misinformed news goes viral, and the processes which lead to a correction of the misinformation. The study, which compared 71 likely and prominent sources of inaccurate internet news over a period of three months to the same news stories on fact-checking sites, concludes that the average interval between viral diffusion of inaccurate news and the discovery of facts which disprove it stands at about 13 hours. Hoaxy uses a custom crawler written in Python and diffused via the Scrapy web crawling framework.
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Research Establishes 13-Hour Gap Between Viral Misinformation and Correction

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  • I am sure that places like the stcok exchange will take this info as a reason to put a delay between the placing of an order and the actual transaction, so people can not profit from it, right?

    This all to protect both the people and the market, as that is their goal, right?

  • It takes truth 13 hours to get its boots on.

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @06:38AM (#51676453) Journal

    A particular information is that the "correction" often fails to travel as far as the original misinformation. There are plenty of examples of this, though a particularly effective case study is the aftermath of the Columbine shootings, where a number of early pieces of misinformation on both the perpetrators (outcasts, "trench coat mafia", third-shooter) and the victims (specific targeting of individuals, religious martyrdom) went viral gained traction and remain part of the popular perceptions of the event today, despite having been disproved and corrected shortly after they were issued. Simply put, the misinformation was a better and "more comfortable" story than the truth (which is often the case - reality has a nasty habit of being messy, while our brains seem to like tidy stories).

    On that basis, this looks like a worthy study. That said, given the Chinese connection, I do have to wonder whether this study isn't just going to be a vehicle for proposing blanket media-censorship.

    • A particular information is that the "correction" often fails to travel as far as the original misinformation.

      Almost always fails to travel as far. And a more recent and still ongoing example than Columbine are the junk studies bashing electronic cigarettes. Every one has been countered or exposed as the junk it is yet they keep coming and have for over five years.

      • I have always enjoyed the anti-smoking campaigns they are so funny. We all know that smoking and even electronic cigarettes are not good for you but then again we do all kinds of things that are not necessarily good for you.

        My favorite is cigarettes have methane which is also found poop cause you know it's not like we have it piped into our houses in large quantities to heat water, heat the house, and even cook food.

    • I hope someday true research is done on how that very nasty rumor about Rod Stewart ended up traversing the world several times over before there were even mobile phones, let alone ubiquitous Internet access.
    • by LaurenCates ( 3410445 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:56AM (#51676943)

      It isn't just websites.

      It seems to me than in any given group, it's always "whoever's version of the story goes public first is the one whose version is most imprinted upon people and is least likely to change in the minds of people who heard it".

      When a controversy broke in a group I was part of, we had a woman who cried to anyone who would listen about a smaller group of "harpies" (in the larger group) that were bullying her. It came out later - and was treated with much less urgency - that she was abusing her domestic partner! Said woman had the most ardent defenders, and the other group, which, best as I can figure, was trying to extricate the partner from the situation and while not entirely innocent, ended up vilified. To this day, people in that group have more or less swept the whole nasty business under the rug and like to pretend it didn't happen.

      I call it "the power of the first complaint".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Saw something similar on Reddit recently - somebody commented that Dr. Richard Stallman suggested that even if you take the battery out of your phone, the NSA could still listen in on your phone via a backup battery(1)

      But after spending 10 minutes reading online, the only thing I could actually find is him saying that just turning your phone off doesn't mean it's actually off.(2)

      Some people in that article started talking about PC motherboards having backup batteries and that it was a "fact" that there's on

  • generalized/averaged time gap between misinformation and correction is practically useless, given the variety of, types of information, news sources, content of news and false news, and methods of correction, ( not to mention differences in languages, culture, internet penetration and habits, co-relation with offline media, etc).
    given all that, time gap for each correction event , plotted on a graph, will spread thinly all along the time axis. averaging such data is absurd and meaningless.

    to be useful the variety mentioned above needs to be narrowed to specific categories. for instance, financial misinformation and correction about companies ina industry listed in a particular stock market reported in a specific group of news sources.

    • If you feel the researchers didn't go far enough, contact them and offer them funding to continue their research. I'm sure they'd be delighted at the prospect.

  • The time difference between China and the US is also 13 hours. Coincidence?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    13hrs is also the delay between a post appearing on /. and a duplicate post appearing.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @07:48AM (#51676587)

    The amount of garbage that I see posted on Facebook that is not only blatantly wrong but you-should-know-better-so-I-assume-dishonesty wrong is incredible in some places. My favorite example off the top of my head is the meme showing a pie chart with the federal budget that shows the military at 60% of the budget and some self-righteous line to the EBT piece that says "Republicans thinking cutting this will balance the budget." Well, guess what, that pie chart is the discretionary budget. That part is about 20% of the entire federal budget. Those of us who actually know enough about the government that our founding fathers wouldn't be embarrassed to let us vote actually notice things like "WTH are Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment and servicing the national debt?"

    The majority just lap that garbage up. Left or right and in between. Doesn't matter. The more it confirms their biases, the more their brains shut down.

    If Facebook wanted to censor something useful instead of legitimate German outrage over the complete disregard for popular opinion on the migrant issue, they could start with a lot of the "political" pages on Facebook that spread more dezinformatsiya than a Soviet state TV station on coke.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Facebook is just proof that people simply want to reinforce their own beliefs and parrot the beliefs of their peer groups. They're not interested in facts or finding any real truths because so many of them contradict what they want to believe or the conventional wisdom of their peer groups.

    • by Anonymous Coward


      Not only that, but Facebook and Twitter are quickly becoming the new "news source." No one questions this shit, as if it's some official source or first hand account. Even mainstream media cites Twitter as a source now for everything. "Reports are coming in from Twitter..."

      Yeah... Twitter... now there is a place to find truth/reality... where people are posting updates every 2-3 minutes on the status of their bowel movements.

    • Indeed. I know waaaaaay too many of the fierce liberal types on Facebook that love to repeat the classic "the military should hold a bake sale" meme.

      Having worked in and around the Government for 15 years and having learned a little bit about color of money and appropriations in that time, I try and gently tell them "You do know that's not how the Government, the economy and 'supply and demand' work, right?"

    • Those of us who actually know enough about the government that our founding fathers wouldn't be embarrassed to let us vote actually notice things like "WTH are Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment and servicing the national debt?"

      You're one of them too.

      I'm only posting this cause it's the THIRD TIME [slashdot.org] THIS WEEK [slashdot.org] (well... last seven days) that I'm seeing this same "not only blatantly wrong but you-should-know-better-so-I-assume-dishonesty wrong" parroting.
      Only this time comical numbers are made to be someone else's fault.
      But with the same fallacy of equating trust funds (paying for social programs - where people ENTRUST a part of their paycheck to the government in return for various forms of insurance later) and direct expenditures (pa

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I"ll just wait the thirteen hours until this article is proven false. But then it might be right if it's proven false.... my head hurts

  • We can call the gap between misinformation and the reality The Breitbart Gap.

  • Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer. CONFIRMED.

  • by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:56AM (#51677357)

    Soon we will have some nutjob claiming that any news story older than 13 hours must be true.

    By this time tomorrow, someone else will have linked to this post to support that claim.

  • ...13 hours before I believe that hoaxy is real.

  • There is a saying, attributed to Mark Twain in 1919: "A lie will travel halfway around the world, while Truth is putting on her shoes."

    The attribution is somewhat doubtful, since Twain died in 1910. But still a quotable quote.

  • "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it. -- William Buckley