Fake News and False Corroboration: Interactivity in Rumor Networks

Abstract

Rumors inundate every social network. Some of them are true, but many of them are false. On rare occasions, a false rumor is exposed as the lie that it is. More commonly, false rumors obtain apparent verification by corroboration from what seems to be a second independent source. However, in complex social networks, that a putative second source is almost never actually independent of the original source. In this work, rumor network simulations demonstrate how easy it is for a node in the network to be fooled into thinking it has received independent verification of a false rumor, when in fact that “second source” can be traced back to the original source. By developing an understanding of the circumstances under which the spread of false rumors, “alternative facts,” and fake news can be controlled, perhaps the field can help prevent them from ruining elections and ruining entire nations.


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