Fake news spreads faster than real news on Twitter, study shows

And we can't even blame the bots.

Andrew Gebhart Former senior producer
Social Media on Portable Devices
Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Fake news is 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than real news. 

According to a study in March's Science Magazine, fake news also spreads farther than its genuine counterpart. The study comprised stories and tweets from 2006 to 2017. It looked at 126,000 stories that had been tweeted by roughly 3 million people. It concluded that tweets about true news stories rarely reached more than 1,000 people, whereas the top false news stories all spread between 1,000 and 100,000 people.

Surprisingly, the study also separated tweets by bots and by actual people, and found that bots tended to spread real and fake news equally. The disparity all came from actual humans.

The reason fake news spreads so well is it surprises people more. Those who retweeted the stories showed fear, disgust and surprise in replies and found the stories more novel.

The goal of the study is to analyze why fake news spreads to help eventually curtail the practice, as previous evidence of its virality had all been anecdotal.

Twitter declined CNET's request for comment.