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You’ll never guess who the biggest spreader of misinformation is on Twitter

Who spreads the most misinformation?

Even before Elon Musk renamed Twitter to X, analysts collected statistics of 650,000 accounts on this social network. On May 30, they finally published the results of their study; This revealed the emergence of a group of super spreaders of disinformation. They make up only 0.3 percent of accounts but are responsible for distributing 80 percent of links to fake news sites.

While you might expect young, internet-savvy people to automate information sharing, it turns out that it’s often older women are very prone to hitting the retweet button.

Scientists approached their research carefully. They relied on accounts they were able to link to U.S. voter registration lists using full names and location information. All of these users were active on the platform before the 2020 elections.

The researchers first determined that these users’ tweets contained political content using a machine learning classifier that had previously been verified by humans. They focused on tweets containing links to news sites. These links were then cross-checked against a list of “news” sites known to spread election misinformation.

There is a caveat to this approach: They did not verify the authenticity of the individual stories being retweeted. While these sites are a constant source of misinformation, there is still a chance that they may have published some credible articles that are circulating. However, given the size of the tested audience, the reputation of the sites and the corresponding number of tweets, this cannot be a significant factor.

People were selected from this population 2,107 accounts accounting for 80 percent of tweets citing disinformation sources. These are called super spreaders of disinformation. For the analysis, superspreaders are compared to a random sample of the entire population and those who share the most connections to trusted news sources.

What emerged?

On average, only 7% of news users on Twitter post links to sites prone to disinformation. Most of these came from superspreaders for two reasons. First, they shared more news links than anyone else, sharing an average of 16 news links per day compared to less than one in a random sample. There were relatively active users between these two groups, with five news links per day.

From all links shared by super distributors, 18 percent were fake news. For other active users the figure was only 2% and for a random sample 3%.

Does it affect anything

The researchers also wanted to know whether these people were just “yelling into the void” or whether their tweets were influencing others.

  • They found this More than 5 percent of all accounts were subscribed to at least one super distributor.
  • Superspreaders’ tweets received more replies, retweets, and likes than the rest of the population.
  • Researchers estimate that superspreaders account for about a quarter of the links to disinformation sites that their regular followers receive.
  • They were the only source of fake news for more than 10 percent of their followers.

So it’s clear that a small group of people tend to tweet links to misinformation sources, and for many users they are the primary source of exposure to these sites. Who are these people?

Who spreads misinformation?

  • Most of these 2,107 accounts, 60%, belong to women.
  • They are also older, with an average age of 58.
  • Although most election misinformation circulated primarily in Republican circles, only 64% of superspreaders were registered Republicans and about 20% were registered Democrats.

Scientists did not undertake to look for the reasons for such a distortion in statistics. But this is probably the result of a lack of awareness of technology, a poor understanding of how the internet and propaganda work, and a natural tendency to trust. At the same time, readers may tend to believe that older people are smarter, know more, and understand the situation better.

Source: 24 Tv



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