PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Global Security Initiative at ASU has been tracking how misinformation and spreads on social media and why, in recent years, it's spreading more rapidly. 

"The way people usually describe it is, 'disinformation' is typically with intent, so there's a goal to basically create and distribute false information, whereas misinformation is typically by accident," explained Nadya Bliss, the executive director of the Global Security Initiatives (GSI). 

GSI is an organization that brings together computer scientists, humanists, social scientists, psychologists, and journalists and asks them to look holistically at problems of disinformation, which typically highlights issues of cyber security. 

Bliss says she's been paying close attention to trends the last 3 to 4 years and has noticed that a major component is social media and people continually on their phones and hitting "refresh." 

"Around events that are changing really rapidly, the information ecosystem is particularly sensitive to all kinds of noise. Whether it's misinformation without intent or disinformation with intent," Bliss said. "It's very difficult for an individual to be able to parse everything and we're very susceptible. We're in this moment where we are consistently checking, which makes us more vulnerable. False information tends to spread faster than true information and the trend has accelerated over the last few decades." 

Bliss cited a previous study that revealed that false tweets spread six times faster than true tweets. 

In order to avoid spreading misinformation or disinformation, Bliss urges everyone to be patient and fact-check with multiple legitimate sources. 

"If you are there, checking obsessively your Twitter feed as we're all doing, today and yesterday and perpetually at all hours of the night, just pause for a second and check--is this source reliable? And then check it again. And I think sometimes that patience is incredibly helpful." 

 

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