Thursday, May 10, 2018

How Misinformation Spreads on Social Media—And What To Do About It - Lawfare

Ample room for improvement

"Last year, the company’s engineering team revealed how its current algorithm works. As with Facebook and YouTube, Twitter now relies on a deep learning algorithm that has learned to prioritize content with greater prior engagement. By combing through Twitter’s data, the algorithm has taught itself that Twitter users are more likely to stick around if they see content that has already gotten a lot of retweets and mentions, compared with content that has fewer. 

The flow of misinformation on Twitter is thus a function of both human and technical factors. Human biases play an important role: Since we’re more likely to react to content that taps into our existing grievances and beliefs, inflammatory tweets will generate quick engagement. It’s only after that engagement happens that the technical side kicks in: If a tweet is retweeted, favorited, or replied to by enough of its first viewers, the newsfeed algorithm will show it to more users, at which point it will tap into the biases of those users too—prompting even more engagement, and so on. At its worse, this cycle can turn social media into a kind of confirmation bias machine, one perfectly tailored for the spread of misinformation."
How Misinformation Spreads on Social Media—And What To Do About It - Lawfare
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