Report: Misinformation most amplified on TikTok, Twitter

Tech

FILE – This Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, file photo, shows the TikTok logo on a smartphone in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

(The Hill) — Posts spreading misinformation are most amplified on Twitter and TikTok, according to a new report that looked at the spread of false narratives online

The Integrity Institute, an advocacy group, found that Twitter and TikTok have the highest “Misinformation Amplification Factor,” a figure the report’s authors used to track the spread of misinformation 

Twitter and TikTok’s high levels of the Misinformation Amplification Factor are based on the mechanisms for “virality” on the platforms, the report found. 

The report analyzed misinformation content from fact-checkers that are part of the International Fact Checking network. The amplification factor was weighed as a ratio between how much engagement a misinformation post received and what engagement would be expected based on the historical performance of content from the creator. 

Twitter’s retweet feature has less friction than other platforms’ sharing options — users can retweet a post with one click, allowing it to spread to a wider audience. 

On TikTok most content is public and views are generated by recommendations dependent on machine learning models that predict engagement, meaning misinformation can spread “far beyond the followers of the account that created it,” the report stated. 

The report identified the highest number of misinformation posts on Facebook, based on the sample analyzed. But posts with misinformation are amplified to a lesser degree on Facebook than on Twitter and TikTok because Facebook’s sharing option has what the report called a higher level of “friction.”

Facebook requires that users pick if they want to share a post as a new post or a direct message and if they want to add commentary. Those options add a level of friction that isn’t apparent to share posts on Twitter or TikTok. 

Instagram had the lowest Misinformation Amplification Factor, based on limited mechanisms for “virality,” the report found. 

The Integrity Institute, however, found signs that Facebook’s Misinformation Amplification Factor may increase as the platform adds more features like TikTok and increases the role of recommended content.

The Hill reached out to TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook parent company Meta for comment. 

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