To Hell With the Truth: Folha

WhatsApp and other social media platforms increasingly influence public perceptions during election campaigns. A parliamentary committee in Brazil is examining the spread of misinformation on social media and finds disturbing trends, including a tendency for confirmation bias. A data analysis firm demonstrated how some Brazilian officials support misinformation on official social media accounts, distributing large numbers of strident, repeated messages while ignoring methodical presentations of factual evidence by traditional media. “Confusion is set up to create an environment in which everything becomes a version, and everyone can choose their own,” explains Flavia Lima, ombudsman for Folha de S.Paulo. Journalists have a responsibility to present fact reporting to their audiences and advise when opinions are off-base. Social media users should be wary of large numbers of messages coming from a few sources who resist offering evidence and complain that the traditional media won’t cover their arguments. Lima describes social media users who stubbornly spout falsehoods as “virtual militias” and concludes that journalists “must spend energy on those who seek to understand the facts to reach their own conclusions.” – YaleGlobal

To Hell With the Truth: Folha

One data study on social media messages in Brazil shows support for false statements had seven times more interactions than statements based on facts
Flavia Lima
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Read the essay from Folha de S.Paulo about how faleshoods gain more traction on social media than the truth.

Flavia Lima is a reporter specializing in economics and has been the ombudsman for Folha since May 2019.

Also read “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019: “Political polarisation has encouraged the growth of partisan agendas online, which together with clickbait and various forms of misinformation is helping to further undermine trust in media – raising new questions about how to deliver balanced and fair reporting in the digital age.”  The report points out that 32 percent of people surveyed actively avoid news.

map from Reuters report showing high proportions of users in Brazil, India, Turkey, South Africa relying on WhatsApp for news

(Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report)

	6,	11,	33,	15,	23

(Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report)

Also read “The Spread of True and False News Online” in Science by Soroush Vosoughi,  Deb Roy and Sinan Aral of MIT:

“Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information. We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information. Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust, and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust.”

Why does fake news resonate?   -	Novelty -	Emotion Warning signs:  -	Repeated messages from few sources -	Unusual media outlets -	More opinion than evidence

(Source: “Spread of True and False News Online,” Science)

Copyright Folha de S.Paulo. All rights reserved.

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