Fake conspiracies and rumors have always attracted the folks more than the palpable publications. The biggest online social network Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has now become the colossal mode for these grapevine buzzes due to the rapid rate of its spread and the enticing content of these conspiracies luring its enormous user base.
The monthly active user base (MAU) of Facebook was 1.32 billion as on June 30,2014, which saw an upsurge of 15% from the year ago quarter. The major contributors to this growth were the two mammoth developing nations – India and Brazil, which also harbored for the most fake accounts.
Figures of Fakers
A recent study conducted by the Cornell University on 2,70,000 posts from 73 different Facebook pages affirmed that only 60,000 of them prevailed from genuine scientific sources while the other 2,00,000 were some just another conspiracy news feeds coming from the alternate authenticated sources and adding to it, such collusion received much more thumsup than their complements. The number of Likes earned by the posts of spurious origin was 6.5 million, whereas their counterparts just received 2.5 million of them. These figures represent the strong inclination of the readers towards the conspiracy based theories and their increasing trust on them.
Facebook estimates that it holds approximately 100 million duplicate accounts – 8% of monthly active users- and 15 million of them are registered from India.
“There may be individuals who maintain one or more Facebook accounts in violation of our terms of service. We estimate, for example, that ‘duplicate’ accounts (an account that a user maintains in addition to his or her principal account) may have represented between approximately 4.3% and 7.9% of our worldwide MAUs (Monthly Active User) in 2013,” Facebook said in the SEC filing.
It also represented an estimate of the user unclassified accounts which are the user profiles created by some business or organization owners or even non-human entities like robots or pets. These are plighted for the sole purpose of violating the terms of service, such as phishing and spamming. In 2013, such accounts were approximated to be between 0.8% and 2.1% of the total monthly active user base and the unwelcome accounts constituting somewhere between 0.4% and 1.2% of the worldwide MAUs.
The gravity of these conspiracy stories
The driving factor behind the spread of these treason theories is their reader class. The phony theory fanciers tend to share and like a feed more than the admirers of the scientific medias and hence land up making more comments in the aspirations of creating better buoyancy for such posts. The World Economic Forum after interviewing 1,000 industry leaders and risk experts concluded that the digital misinformation is one of the biggest global threat in the present scenario.“The global risk of massive digital misinformation sits at the center of a constellation of technological and geopolitical risks ranging from terrorism to cyber attacks and the failure of global governance,” the WEF report reads.
The fake stories, not only regarding science, are gaining widespread hearers but also in the recent times the fictitious news scoops of celebrity deaths are attracting huge masses. This unusual trend gained huge popularity in the previous year when users came up with the antics of faking their friend’s death. A number of celebrities have been killed in the rumor feeds in the recent years and some even more than once. Such mendacity are the results of some bogus news sites who create a huge panic by the use of few hashtags and fb shares. On June 10, 2010, actor Russell Crowe when killed by a death hoax responded to this via Twitter, posting a message: “Unable to answer tweets fell off a mountain in Austria, all over red rover. Don’t know how I got there, but the media are never wrong. G’Bye.”
Although, it is presumed that these fake conspiracies are short-lived and do not have any serious repercussions yet there is a huge probability that it may ill-shape the notions of the mob before getting correctly re-tailored. Hence there is an imperative need for the surveillance of these trolling to prevent the misuse of the social platforms and make this channel a fake-free news source.