Synthesis produced by the Fondation Descartes of:
CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel). "La propagation des fausses informations sur les réseaux sociaux : étude de la plateforme Twitter". 25 novembre 2020.
This CSA report (of which this summary covers only a few aspects) analyzes the mechanisms by which false information spreads on Twitter. The report defines “false information” as “information that has been analyzed by journalists, particularly those specialized in fact-checking, and found to be false.” (p.13) The authors note that this report is limited to the social media platform Twitter and is therefore concerned with individuals who are not representative of the French population as a whole.
The first part of this report analyzes the activity of various types of Twitter accounts: reliable accounts, unreliable accounts, and fact-checking accounts. The report uses a classification system created by Décodex in order to categorize sources of information (category 1: parodical; category 2: spreading false information; category 3: questionable; category 4: reliable). Here are some interesting findings stemming from this report:
The second part of the report analyzes tweets spreading false information (identified by fact-checking websites) in order to better understand the accounts that are sharing this information, and those that are correcting it. The authors show that, contrary to what we may have expected (or hoped for), truthful information does not drive away false information. Indeed, Twitter conversations surrounding topics prone to the spread of false information rapidly die down without the truthful corrective information ever reaching the same amount of visibility.