When it came to viral news stories, most of us would be well advised to avoid sharing our personal information online.
The fear of sharing your location, or any other information about you, has proven to be an effective tool to spread false information about people and organisations, according to a new study by the University of Warwick.
The study, titled The Social Media Effect on Viral Stories: A Quantitative Study of Social Media, was conducted by Warwick’s Centre for the Study of Journalism and Communication and was published in the journal Social Science Research.
The researchers looked at the amount of shared information about a number of topics that they determined to be most effective at spreading false information.
The number of times each article was shared in total on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter increased from a baseline of 1.4 per cent of all stories to 2.1 per cent.
The average number of shares per article was also increased from 1.8 to 2 per cent, which the authors say is a good indication of how effective the content is.
But there was a notable increase in the number of shared links, with the number rising from 1 to 2,300 per article.
This is the first time we have been able to show that the increase in shared links and link sharing is significant.
In other words, the number and share rate of links are increasing at a rate that is consistent with a viral effect, the authors write.
In the study, researchers found that when people share their personal information in social media posts, it appears to increase their likelihood of being shared.
The more people share information, the more likely it is to be shared.
The most common social media platform for sharing information was Facebook, followed by Twitter and YouTube, with Instagram the most popular, according the study.
The authors conclude that social media outlets such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are a particularly effective platform for spreading false and misleading information, as they are well-known to be heavily socialised and have a large amount of content on their sites.
In a statement, a University of Wales spokesperson said:The University of Swansea is committed to supporting research and teaching students, and is actively promoting the importance of using social media to communicate, engage with and connect with peers.
We are also providing our students with the opportunity to learn more about the issues that affect students, so they can be empowered to make informed decisions about how to engage with relevant information online and how to take action when they see misleading or inaccurate information.
In an online survey, published in December, the University also revealed that almost 70 per cent people said they would be willing to pay for a “virtual travel experience” in order to receive information on topics they cared about.