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A mockup of a prompt asking users to rate the accuracy of a headline on a scale of 1-to-5.


Dispel Rumors

Headline Rating Interstitial

Reduce sharing of misinformation


What It Is

Asks a user to rate the accuracy of the headline of a non-political news story.

What It Does

Users exposed to this prompt go on to share higher-quality news sources.

They are also more selective about content they interact with on the platform—liking, commenting, higher quality posts and shares, &c.—for at least the following 24 hours.

When To Use It

The format can vary; this intervention was tested as a direct message to users on Twitter.

How We Know It Works

"We find clear evidence that the single accuracy message made users more discerning in their subsequent sharing decisions." write the authors of the study. "Relative to baseline, the accuracy message increased the average quality of the news sources shared, t(5378)=2.90, p=.004, and the total quality of shared sources summed over all posts, t(5378)=3.12, p=.002."

"This translates into increases of 4.8% and 9.0% respectively when estimating the treatment effect for user-days on which tweets would occur in treatment (that is, excluding user-days in the “never-taker” principal stratum[...] because the treatment cannot have an effect when no tweets would occur in either treatment or control); including user-days with no tweets yields an increase of 2.1% and 4.0%in average and total quality, respectively.

"Furthermore, the treatment more than tripled the level of sharing discernment (i.e., difference in number of mainstream versus fake/hyper-partisan links shared per user-day; interaction between post-treatment dummy and link type, t(5378)=3.27, p=.001)."

Why It Matters

On top of the immediate effects for any given users, this has a cascading effect to their followers who in turn are exposed to less misinformation.

Improving the quality of the content shared by one user improves the content that their followers see, and therefore improves the content their followers share. This in turn improves what the followers’ followers see and share, and so on. Thus, the cumulative effects of such an intervention may be substantially larger than what is observed when only examining the treated individuals–particularly given that the treatment is as effective, if not more so, for users with larger numbers of followers.

– Pennycook & al. 2019


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Our Confidence Rating


We reserve this rating for interventions that have been rigorously tested in a form that is subject to independent formal peer review, or has been replicated independently.

In The Wild

This intervention has precedence, and exists, or has at one time or another, existed in the wild.




Altmetric score

November 13, 2019

Understanding and reducing the spread of misinformation online

Gordon Pennycook, Ziv Epstein, Mohsen Mosleh, Antonio Arechar, Dean Eckles, David Rand

Link or Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Supplemental materials



Interventional studies cover experiments and quasi-experiments. In experiments, individuals meeting eligibility requirements are randomly assigned into an experimental group or a control group. The experimental intervention (protocol, method or treatment) and its alternative(s) are clearly defined and their implementation is closely managed by the researcher. Quasi-experimental studies are empirical studies in which subjects are assigned an intervention, by a non-random method. The researcher may define and manage the alternatives, which could be treatment and control, or two or more different interventions.

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Further Reading

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