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Fake News Gets Shared More When It is Angry, Anxiety-Inducing

By New Scientist

June 4, 2020

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Researchers at the Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Big Data and Brain Computing and Beihang University in China have found that fake news may go viral more quickly when it uses words associated with anger.

The researchers analyzed a data set of 22,479 posts from 20,532 users that Weibo—one of China's biggest social media platforms—had officially flagged as fake news.

The team also looked at 10,000 real posts from 1,527 users.

Then the researchers tasked a group of nine people with manually identifying the emotional content of posts by looking for words that appear on a list of more than 6,000 emotional terms, including those associated with anger, joy, sadness, disgust, and fear.

The team found that the proportion of anger in fake news that had been widely circulated was three times greater than that in real news with few shares.

In addition, fake news was nearly 6% angrier and 17% less joyful than real news.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2020 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA

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