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Millenials have a strong bullshit detector on Twitter

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Millenials have a strong bullshit detector on Twitter

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Last year the Millennial impact report showed how active young people are on digital technology.  It revealed that the digital natives live and breath digital.  85% of them own a smartphone, compared to 63% of the rest of the population.  More than 80% of them have a Facebook profile, whilst nearly 70% regularly visit blogs.  What’s more, some 67% interact with charities on Facebook, whilst 70% have made an online donation.

It’s a common theme, especially amongst social business folks, that the Millennial generation will provide the key to our organizations becoming more collaborative and social.  Maybe they will, but I’m not sure it’s quite as clear cut as all that.

A study, published recently, revealed that young people don’t place an awful lot of trust in the social tools they so frequently use.  For instance, it revealed that youngsters, just like the rest of us, often share content on Twitter without bothering to read the links we’re sharing.

“Our findings suggest young people are somewhat wary of information that comes from Twitter,” said Kimberly Fenn, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, lead investigator on the study. “It’s a good sign.”

The research saw a group of undergraduates shown a series of images about a theft taking place.  They were then shown false information about the scene in a Twitter style format.  The researchers tested whether the students integrated the bogus information into their minds, which psychologists call false memory. The results showed that when the participants read the “Twitter” feed, they were much less likely to form false memories about the story.

The researchers believe this was because the youngsters were not particularly confident in the veracity of the info shown via the “Twitter” feed, hence why it wasn’t absorbed into their memory.

“We propose young adults are taking into account the medium of the message when integrating information into memory,” Fenn said.

All of which is probably a good thing, and will no doubt please researchers from the University of Indiana, who recently developed an application that aimed to identify and spot the spread of false information through social networks by detecting whether Twitter users were in fact real or not.

“We have applied a statistical learning framework to analyze Twitter data, but the ‘secret sauce’ is in the set of more than one thousand predictive features able to discriminate between human users and social bots, based on content and timing of their tweets, and the structure of their networks,” said Alessandro Flammini, an associate professor of informatics and principal investigator on the project. “The demo that we’ve made available illustrates some of these features and how they contribute to the overall ‘bot or not’ score of a Twitter account.”

Maybe all they needed was to set some teenagers loose on the data and let their in-built bullshit detectors do the rest.

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