Duke study shows many people pushing misinformation on social media want to wreak havoc


DURHAM, NC (WNCN) – Supporters of the far-right conspiracy theory group QAnon recently gathered in Dallas while awaiting John F. Kennedy Jr. The former president’s son died in a plane crash in 1999. Members of QAanon believed JFK Jr. to be there to announce that he will run alongside Donald Trump in the 2024 election. People who did show up thought it was true.

But what about the people spreading this kind of fake news on social media?

“They continued to share misinformation despite these interventions from third-party fact-checkers and so on. So I would most likely suggest that they don’t care about the veracity of the news, ”said Hemant Kakkar, assistant professor of management and organizations at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Kakkar and his team conducted a study to find out what types of personalities publish fake news and what their motivations are. In many cases, they don’t necessarily believe or even care if what they’re posting is true as long as it creates chaos.

“They are not driven by clarity, whether the news is true or not, or whether the news is accurate or not. What guided their behavior was this desire to create chaos. It was quite shocking. I didn’t expect it to be the pilot, ”Kakkar said.

About 4,600 people participated in the study. Kakkar said that consciousness plays an important role.

Whether it was spreading fake news like Bill Gates putting a microchip tracker in doses of COVID-19 vaccine or causing the January 6 insurgency, Kakkar said the chaos often comes from people who no longer believe in long-standing institutions. The study also shows that while far-right extremists are most likely to publish such things, far-left liberals also publish fake news.

“Our basic conclusion was, across studies, that not all Conservatives share fake news. In fact, what we have found is that the Liberals and Conservatives are to some extent sharing fake news, ”he said.

So what about this effort by social media platforms to post warnings or filter out lies? For the most part, Kakkar discovered that it just didn’t work.

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