Social media has become a cornerstone to modern society. It has revolutionized the way that we communicate and gives us the ability to connect with diverse individuals from all over the world. Literally, people from all walks of life in every corner of the globe with an Internet connection are just a few clicks away.
But even tools that are created with the best intent can wreak havoc when they fall into the wrong hands. It's more apparent than ever that social media has been helping build upon biases and isolating us from each other, and fake news is a huge reason why this is happening.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was conducted by a team of researchers using data modeling to map the spread of two different types of content: conspiracy theories and scientific information.
The findings of the research shows that users tend to consume, engage, and share content that's related to very specific narratives and ignore other content. This forms homogeneous clusters, which allow us to stay in our own bubbles and circulate the same narratives, even if it's fake news that consists of BS.
According to the co-author, the main point of the study is to examine how and why misinformation is spread online. This is critical because misinformation is thought of as one of the main threats to modern society. For highly segregated topics, analysis showed that users have tendencies to search for, interpret, and recall confirmation bias information that feed into their pre-existing beliefs.
Even when people attempt to avoid misinformation and are open to having unbiased conversations online, it is still possible to fall victim to confirmation bias when consuming fake news. That leads to people liking and sharing fake news without accurately researching information first, which contributes to the reckless sharing of misinformation. My question is, is social media the problem or is the real problem our own biased beliefs?
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