Believability of News
When social media becomes a dominant channel for the distribution of news, manipulation of the news agenda and news content can be achieved by anyone who is hosting a website with access to social media APIs. Falsehoods masked as legitimate news with the intent to manipulate the public are called Fake News. This type of propaganda is disseminated by sharing of individual social media users. Fake news pose a threat to democracies as they influence the public agenda and contribute to polarization of opinions. To limit the dissemination of fake news, social media websites utilize fact-checking badges to flag possibly fabricated content. It has however not been investigated whether these badges are effective and who responds to them. In a survey study with 120 participants we found little evidence for the effectiveness of such badges. However, believability of news in a social media sites were generally rated rather low.
KeywordsFake news User study Fact checking Personality Social media Opinion formation
We would like to thank the anonymous participants for sharing this intimate data with us and Isabell Busch, Claudia Gerke, Vanessa Götzl, Nicole Kuska and Vivian Lotz for designing the news items and helping with sampling. This research was supported by the Digital Society research program funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The authors thank the German Research Council DFG for the friendly support of the research in the excellence cluster “Integrative Production Technology in High Wage Countries”.
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