It is a fascinating study which is clearly worth the detour. Researchers from the Open University of Catalonia and 19 other university establishments are interested in the dissemination of conspiracy theories on social networks. They have been quite numerous in recent years, one of the most famous being the QAnon movement to which we have devoted a long analysis .
Wrong facts would be further questioned on Twitter
The study consisted of two separate investigations. The first was done in December 2000, while the second was done in May 2020, shortly after the start of the pandemic. The main lesson from this research is that the dissemination of conspiracy is very different depending on the platform.
Scientists thus distinguish Twitter on the one hand, and services like Facebook , WhatsApp on the other. Regarding the first, Ana Sofía Cardenal, the main author of this study explains:
The peculiarities of operation and the characteristics of Twitter, a social network more focused on news consumption, increases social pressure on what is posted there, which in turn could perhaps reduce the flow of unverified or alternative information to other networks.
Researchers also believe that Twitter users “ combine above-average education levels with a greater tendency to seek information and engage in political debates than users of the other platforms studied ”
Regarding Facebook, and WhatsApp, the study shows that users often have family or friendships with each other. As a result, they are much less likely to verify the information shared there. Research has also shown a correlation between ” using Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp and having conspiracy theory-based beliefs regarding Covid- 19. ”
Based on these observations, the authors call on platforms to redouble their efforts to make their products safer for their users. The labeling of conspiratorial publications could in this regard be a positive game-changer.