Here We Go Again! New News Credibility Study Attacks Free Speech Online

May 24th, 2024 4:31 PM

A leftist research group has come out of the woodwork waving around a new study identifying 10 “superspreaders” of misinformation on Twitter. Here we go again. 

The Indiana University Observatory on Social Media (OSM) just released a study in which it examined over 2 million tweets created by over 400,000 users and evaluated them for so-called misinformation and “credibility.” The group allegedly found that 10 users generated nearly one-third of what it deemed “low-credibility content” and 1,000 users accounted for about three-quarters. The group did not give a full list of the top 10 or 1,000 users that it criticized, however, it emphasized the need for these accounts to be removed in yet another leftist attack on free speech. Groups representing leftist mega donors like eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark were listed as OSM’s funders.  

The OSM researchers claim that they separated the content of the examined tweets into high-credibility and low-credibility content and then proceeded to identify users, particularly those who tweeted out allegedly low-credibility content more than once. 

The study’s authors also circularly defined “low-credibilty content” as “content originally published by low-credibility, or untrustworthy sources.” The OSM researchers the study then identified certain users as supposed  “superspreaders” of  such content characterizing them as having “untrustworthy content-sharing behavior” and using so-called “toxic language.”

However, not once does the study give a full list of the people it accused of being “superspreaders.” Instead, it name-dropped a few prominent users including Fox News host Sean Hannity and, Children’s Health Defense, a group chaired by Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 

Other accounts mentioned included @TheDemocrats, @GOP, Donald Trump Jr., the son and advisor of former president Donald Trump, founder Steve Milloy, and news outlet Breaking911. Many of other accounts, the authors noted, were “inactive,” which is quite telling considering the tweets they looked at were all from Jan. 2020–Oct. 2020, notably before the explosive 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 Capitol protests. 

The study was very obviously censorship-focused as the researchers repeatedly note how “removing” or “eliminating” top “superspreader” accounts decreased the total amount of misinformation on Twitter, citing popularity and retweet influence as factors. “Our analysis shows that removing superspreaders from the platform results in a large reduction of unreliable information,” 

In the 17-page study published in PLOS One, the study’s authors made only one passing reference to potential free speech concerns. “[T]he potential for suspensions to reduce harm may conflict with freedom of speech values,” the authors added in its conclusion. “The effectiveness of other approaches to moderation should be evaluated by researchers and industry practitioners. For instance, platforms could be redesigned to incentivize the sharing of trustworthy content,” they added as if platforms do not already do that.  

News credibility ratings and so-called superspreader lists are nothing new. In fact, NewsGuard, Ad Fontes, the Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Global Disinformation Index are known for their extreme vendetta to discredit news sources that don’t comport with their own leftist bias. The University of Indiana is just piling on more of the same. 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using MRC Free Speech America’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.