The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News

A large megaphone projects lies, fake news, falsehoods, and images of Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, and Hillary Clinton. A smaller megaphone projects truth.

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The 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, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.

“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.”

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Instagram is changing the way we experience art, and that’s a good thing

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Increased visitor photography at galleries and museums has proved controversial at times. Recently a visitor to Los Angeles pop-up art gallery The 14th Factory destroyed $200,000 worth of crown sculptures. The sculptures rested on top of a series of plinths, and while attempting a selfie the visitor fell, knocking the plinths down in a domino style chain reaction.

Banning photography on the basis that it interferes with the visitor’s experience could be seen as cultural elitism; expressing a view that art can only be appreciated in an orthodox manner. It also ignores the potential of Instagram to bring a new dimension to artists, curators, exhibition designers and visitors.

Recent research at Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art Gerhard Richter exhibition showed that visitors use Instagram as part of their aesthetic experience. A number of participants posted Richter’s art works on Instagram creatively immersing themselves in the image, wearing clothes matching the art, and copying Richter’s signature blurred style.

Another study at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ Recollect: Shoes exhibition in Sydney found that audiences used Instagram primarily to engage with exhibition content; not by taking selfies. Visitors mostly photographed the intricate details of the shoes’ design.

This finding was echoed in a larger study that focused on Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Far from the narcissistic selfie-obsessive behaviour that much media coverage insists is occurring, Instagram offers visitors authority and agency in sharing their experience.

This connects audiences with museum content in a way that they can control and is meaningful to them. New research shows how this activity is also tied to place – the museum, and the city beyond it.

Using Instagram in public spaces like museums and galleries is complex. It’s tied to broader research that shows how social media use in public spaces is challenging a range of social norms.

Startups Are Turning Customers into Lobbyists

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Our research finds that some insurgent firms have prevailed on the regulatory front by using a strategy straight out of the playbook of environmental activists – mobilizing stakeholders to become political advocates. Organized demonstrations of support by stakeholder groups can send a powerful signal to policymakers. We find that firms mobilize their customers – one important stakeholder group – in three primary ways:

Online petitions…

Partner organizations…

Consumer clubs…

 

 

First Evidence That Online Dating Is Changing the Nature of Society

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Loose ties have traditionally played a key role in meeting partners. While most people were unlikely to date one of their best friends, they were highly likely to date people who were linked with their group of friends; a friend of a friend, for example. In the language of network theory, dating partners were embedded in each other’s networks.

Indeed, this has long been reflected in surveys of the way people meet their partners: through mutual friends, in bars, at work, in educational institutions, at church, through their families, and so on.

Online dating has changed that. Today, online dating is the second most common way for heterosexual couples to meet. For homosexual couples, it is far and away the most popular.

That has significant implications. “People who meet online tend to be complete strangers,” say Ortega and Hergovich. And when people meet in this way, it sets up social links that were previously nonexistent.

The Four Faces of Facebook

Brand X Journal

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…Researchers also found they could easily categorize users into four broad types: ‘relationship builders,’ ‘window shoppers,’ ‘town criers,’ and ‘selfies’.”

Relationship builders: …does not consider Facebook an ‘open virtual social society but rather a mini-hub site for personal storytelling, where information freely flows between friends and family’.

Window Shoppers: Driven by ‘a sense of social obligation’ to be on Facebook, window shoppers see Facebook as an inescapable part of modern life…

Town Criers: They might broadcast information they feel compelled to share to a wide range of close and distant connections, but they’re not looking for a follow-up…

Selfies: …they do it primarily to call attention to themselves… to create a better—or different—versions of themselves.

Teenagers think Google is cool, study by Google finds

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Today’s teenagers think Google and Google brands are cool, research funded by Google has found.

Google published “It’s Lit: A guide to what teens think is cool”, a “magazine” compiling the results of its research into Generation Z, characterised as those aged from 13 to 17.

The Google-funded research found Generation Z relied on brands to “shape their world”, and that Google was the third-most cool. Cool was defined by the researchers as “unique, impressive, interesting, amazing, or awesome”.

YouTube, which Google owns, came out at number one ahead of Netflix. Google’s web browser Chrome placed tenth, in front of Nike.

The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think

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A recent international research study allows us to quantify the difference between the broad population and the tech elite…

The 4 Levels of Technology Proficiency
The researchers defined 4 levels of proficiency, based on the types of tasks users can complete successfully. For each level, here’s the percentage of the population (averaged across the OECD countries) who performed at that level, as well as the report’s definition of the ability of people within that level.

“Below Level 1” = 14% of Adult Population
Being too polite to use a term like “level zero,” the OECD researchers refer to the lowest skill level as “below level 1.” … An example of task at this level is “Delete this email message” in an email app.

Can’t Use Computers = 26% of Adult Population
…That one quarter of the population can’t use a computer at all is the most serious element of the digital divide. To a great extent, this problem is caused by computers still being much too complicated for many people.