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

Tested

Convincing

Dispel Rumors

Headline Rating Interstitial

Reduce sharing of misinformation

Headline Rating Interstitial

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Overview

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

How It Might Work

"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.

Special Considerations

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

Examples

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Our Confidence Rating

Convincing

A grade of Convincing is reserved for interventions for which the majority of evidence is peer-reviewed experiments that have yet to undergo attempts at replication.

This is the second highest grade that we give interventions.

In The Wild

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

Citations

Intervention Specific Research

Shifting attention to accuracy can reduce misinformation online

Author(s)

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

Date of Publication

November 13, 2019

Publication Status
Preprint
Study Design
Experimental
Sample Size(s)

Min.

Total

1015

Max.

5379

Affiliation(s)

MIT Media Lab

Journal Name

Entry Type

Research Article or Manuscript

Publication Statistics
Online Impact
Citations
APA Citation

Pennycook, G., Epstein, Z., Mosleh, M., Arechar, A. A., Eckles, D., & Rand, D. G. (2019, November 13). Shifting attention to accuracy can reduce misinformation online. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/3n9u8

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Do you think this intervention could have more benefits, unacknowledged drawbacks, or other inaccuracies that we've neglected to mention here?

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Further Reading

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