A team of MIT researchers "analyzed every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter's existence" and found that "fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories," reports The Atlantic. Why? The MIT team has two hypotheses:
First, fake news seems to be more "novel" than real news. Falsehoods are often notably different from the all the tweets that have appeared in a user's timeline 60 days prior to their retweeting them, the team found.
Second, fake news evokes much more emotion than the average tweet. The researchers created a database of the words that Twitter users used to reply to the 126,000 contested tweets, then analyzed it with a state-of-the-art sentiment-analysis tool. Fake tweets tended to elicit words associated with surprise and disgust, while accurate tweets summoned words associated with sadness and trust, they found.