Measuring How Badly Social Media Amplifies Misinformation

October 26, 2022

In its ongoing examination of misinformation online, the New York Times tells us about the Integrity Institute‘s quest to measure just how much social media contributes to the problem in, “How Social Media Amplifies Misinformation More than Information.” Reporter Steven Lee Meyers writes:

“It is well known that social media amplifies misinformation and other harmful content. The Integrity Institute, an advocacy group, is now trying to measure exactly how much — and on Thursday [October 13] it began publishing results that it plans to update each week through the midterm elections on Nov. 8. The institute’s initial report, posted online, found that a ‘well-crafted lie’ will get more engagements than typical, truthful content and that some features of social media sites and their algorithms contribute to the spread of misinformation.”

In is ongoing investigation, the researchers compare the circulation of posts flagged as false by the International Fact-Checking Network to that of other posts from the same accounts. We learn:

“Twitter, the analysis showed, has what the institute called the great misinformation amplification factor, in large part because of its feature allowing people to share, or ‘retweet,’ posts easily. It was followed by TikTok, the Chinese-owned video site, which uses machine-learning models to predict engagement and make recommendations to users. … Facebook, according to the sample that the institute has studied so

far, had the most instances of misinformation but amplified such claims to a lesser degree, in part because sharing posts requires more steps. But some of its newer features are more prone to amplify misinformation, the institute found.”

Facebook‘s video content spread lies faster than the rest of the platform, we learn, because its features lean more heavily on recommendation algorithms. Instagram showed the lowest amplification rate, while the team did not yet have enough data on YouTube to draw a conclusion. It will be interesting to see how these amplifications do or do not change as the midterms approach. The Integrity Institute shares its findings here.

Cynthia Murrell, October 26, 2022


One Response to “Measuring How Badly Social Media Amplifies Misinformation”

  1. SocialFi, a New Type of Mashup : Stephen E. Arnold @ Beyond Search on November 22nd, 2022 5:05 am

    […] realizes what Mondal calls overreach and censorship would include efforts to quell the spread of misinformation and harmful content already bedeviling society. To those behind SocialFi have any plans to address […]

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