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May 15, 2014 02:44 PM EDT

Twitter: Young Adults Are Wary Of The Microblogging Service


Millennials have a healthy mistrust of the information they read on Twitter, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Michigan State University found that young adults are wary of the information they receive on Twitter because they are aware that nearly anyone can start a Twitter account and post 140 characters of information at a time, bogus or not.

Twitter, with 230 million users, is most popular among people in their teens and 20s.

"Our findings suggest young people are somewhat wary of information that comes from Twitter," Kimberley Fenn, lead investigator on the study and an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, said in a statement. "It's a good sign."

For the study, researchers showed 74 undergraduate students a series of images on a computer that depicted a story of a man robbing a car. False information about the story was then presented in a scrolling text feed that bore a high resemblance to Twitter or in a feed from a more traditional online source.

Researchers then tested whether the students integrated the bogus information into their minds, which psychologists call false memory.

Their findings suggest that when participants read the "Twitter" feed, they were much less likely to form false memories about the story.

Investigators concluded that young adults were more mistrustful of the Twitter feed than they were of the more traditional feed.

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

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, is the first to examine social media and false memory. The findings were recently published online in the Springer research journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 

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