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Truth is Powerful

Negligence, Not Politics, Drives Most Misinformation Sharing

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Researchers found that social media users are generally adept at identifying fake news. But that doesn’t always affect their decision to repost it. You don’t need a study to know that misinformation is rampant on social media; a quick search on “ vaccines ” or “ climate change ” will confirm that.

A more compelling question is why. It’s clear that, at a minimum, there are contributions from organized disinformation campaigns, rampant political partisans, and questionable algorithms . But beyond that, there are still a lot of people who choose to share stuff that even a cursory examination would show is garbage. What’s driving them?

That was the question that motivated a small international team of researchers who decided to take a look at how a group of US residents decided on which news to share. Their results suggest that some of the standard factors that people point to when explaining the tsunami of misinformation—inability to evaluate information and partisan biases—aren’t having as much influence as most of us think.

Instead, a lot of the blame gets directed at people […]

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