Redesign the Information Ecosystem in the 21st Century

study finds: fake news & false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into social networks and spread much faster than accurate stories

Photo of Paul Kim
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This article ends with the following comment and speaks to the importance of this collaboration with ISTE and the engagement of educators around this topic -- "In short, social media seems to systematically amplify falsehood at the expense of the truth, and no one—neither experts nor politicians nor tech companies—knows how to reverse that trend. It is a dangerous moment for any system of government premised on a common public reality."

Also from the article: “It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information,” said Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at MIT who has studied fake news since 2013 and who led this study. “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.”

The study has already prompted alarm from social scientists. “We must redesign our information ecosystem in the 21st century,” write a group of 16 political scientists and legal scholars in an essay also published Thursday in Science. They call for a new drive of interdisciplinary research “to reduce the spread of fake news and to address the underlying pathologies it has revealed.”

Share research or student experiences that informed your idea!

A massive new study analyzes every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years—and finds that the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor. By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter.


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Photo of Karen Sorensen

I like this idea but how do we turn this research into an activity in the classroom, either through low-tech or high-tech means? I think it's some type of simulation would be the best way to demonstrate the results of this research.

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos

Building on this idea from Karen.

What if it were some type of "Telephone Activity" In one group, the message is an outrageous lie, in another group the message is a truthful statement, perhaps a well known statistic. It would be interesting to see how the language changes from one end of the classroom to another.

One could also do this in a controlled online scenario---maybe a closed off chat room or discussion channel to see where the conversation goes in both chat rooms. One room riddled with lies, the other is a room where students have to share opinions on researched facts and truth.

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