A mockup of an over-the-top news headline that reads "ALIENS!". In front of it is a reminder: "If shocking claims in a headline sound unbelievable, then they probably are."

Digital media literacy tips

Reduce the spread of mis- and disinformation

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What It Is

A simple list of tips that can be followed to check the accuracy of headlines on social media. For example, “Be skeptical of headlines. False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.”

Civic Signal Being Amplified

Build civic competence

When To Use It

This should appear as an intermittent reminder, announcement or additional tool for platforms to decrease the impact of potential false news.

What Is Its Intended Impact

To increase the skepticism of false news stories by giving users tips to assess the accuracy of the news, and to decrease the sharing of false news.

Evidence That It Works

Evidence That It Works

Consistent with a prior hypothesis that media literacy interventions might reduce belief in false news stories, Guess et al. (2020) conducted survey experiments that exposed participants to a media literacy intervention that presented reminders on how to gauge the accuracy of a news story.

People exposed to the tips were significantly more skeptical of false news stories. The intervention reduced the perceived accuracy ratings of false headlines among a sample of participants in the United States (d = 0.20) and in India (d = 0.11).

While participants also became slightly more skeptical of legitimate news stories, it was not nearly to the same degree as false news stories. The intervention was found to improve the discernment between mainstream and false news headlines among a nationally representative sample in the United States (by 26.5%) and a highly educated online sample in India (by 17.5%) with the effects remaining measurable, albeit decreased, even after several weeks for the US sample.

Taken together, these point towards the effectiveness of the digital media literacy intervention in improving the discernment of false news stories and curbing their spread. The weeks-long effect also suggests that people learn digital media literacy skills from the intervention and incorporate them.

Why It Matters

Poor digital media literacy can lead to belief in hoaxes and misinformation. Finding a way to arm individuals against falling for falsehoods is critical to protecting their well being as well as ensuring members of communities have a shared understanding from which to cooperate.

Special Considerations


This intervention entry currently lacks photographic evidence (screencaps, &c.)


A digital media literacy intervention increases discernment between mainstream and false news in the United States and India

Andrew M. Guess, Michael Lerner, Benjamin Lyons, & al.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A
June 20, 2020

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