Psychology

Real Solutions for Fake News? Measuring the Effectiveness of General Warnings and Fact‑Check Tags in Reducing Belief in False Stories on Social Media

December 15, 2020

Katherine Clayton, Spencer Blair, Jonathan Busam, Samuel Forstner, & al.

Summary

A general warning or specific fact-check tags on social media may reduce the belief in false stories.

Abstract

Social media has increasingly enabled “fake news” to circulate widely, most notably during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. These intentionally false or misleading stories threaten the democratic goal of a well-informed electorate. This study evaluates the effectiveness of strategies that could be used by Facebook and other social media to counter false stories. Results from a pre-registered experiment indicate that false headlines are perceived as less accurate when people receive a general warning about misleading information on social media or when specific headlines are accompanied by a “Disputed” or “Rated false” tag. Though the magnitudes of these effects are relatively modest, they generally do not vary by whether headlines were congenial to respondents’ political views. In addition, we find that adding a “Rated false” tag to an article headline lowers its perceived accuracy more than adding a “Disputed” tag (Facebook’s original approach) relative to a control condition. Finally, though exposure to the “Disputed” or “Rated false” tags did not affect the perceived accuracy of unlabeled false or true headlines, exposure to a general warning decreased belief in the accuracy of true headlines, suggesting the need for further research into how to most effectively counter false news without distorting belief in true information

Journal

Political Behavior

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1007/s11109-019-09533-0

Cite This Paper

Clayton, Katherine & Blair, Spencer & Busam, Jonathan & Forstner, Sam & Glance, John & Green, Guy & Kawata, Anna & Kovvuri, Akhila & Martin, Jonathan & Morgan, Evan & Sandhu, Morgan & Sang, Rachel & Scholz-Bright, Rachel & Welch, Austin & Wolff, Andrew & Zhou, Amanda & Nyhan, Brendan. (2020). Real Solutions for Fake News? Measuring the Effectiveness of General Warnings and Fact-Check Tags in Reducing Belief in False Stories on Social Media. Political Behavior. 42. 10.1007/s11109-019-09533-0.

Bibliography

The following papers were cited within this study.

Title Authors Year Cited by

The following papers were conducted after this paper's publication, and reference this exact study. They can be thought of as 'ensuing from' or 'being derived from' this study.

Title Authors Year Cited by