'News' You Should Lose

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(DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- If a politician lies to you, or tells you something false having made no effort to determine whether it’s true or not, you don’t like it, right?

OK, clearly not all of you mind, but most of you do.

How about a friend or acquaintance who shares false gossip? Doesn’t that make you wonder about that person, and possibly want to spend less time talking with them?

If you answered yes to both these scenarios, you may be appalled at the news of what researchers at the University of Buffalo have documented.

They examined over 20,000 tweets made during two major news events – Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombings – to see how Twitter users reacted to false rumors that were circulating.

Most of the specific rumors they looked at are hidden behind an expensive paywall, but they did share one – actually a string of false tweets made by a bored political operative during the hurricane about shutdowns of electrical and subway service that got picked up by other outlets and forced public officials to take time away from their emergency work to debunk them.

And guess what?

Ninety-one percent of Twitter users who saw these falsehoods went ahead and spread them to others.

Less than ten percent bothered to confirm them.

This speaks to what a garbage medium the internet can be, and how lazy and careless users who assume it’s a real source of news are about consuming and spreading that garbage.

What’s that?

You say you don’t care?

You will when you get attacked by one of those giant alligators growing in the sewer system.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. Listen to his previous podcasts on iHeartRadio. 

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Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more

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