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New study suggests that fact-checking on Facebook has limited effect, and could even backfire

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New study suggests that fact-checking on Facebook has limited effect, and could even backfire

Overall, the use of “disputed” tags made participants only 3.7 percentage points more likely to correctly determine headlines as false, Politico reported citing a recent study by the Yale University. 

Worse, flagging fake news could even increase the probability that it will be believed by some audience members – especially Trump supporters and young adults. Moreover, the researchers point out that the “disputed” tag may give the impression that all unflagged articles, however dubious, are perceived as true. 

Although the results show that flagging slightly helps in identifying false content in general, given the above complications the researchers question whether the net result of the fact-checking efforts is even positive.

The study’s results are likely to be disappointing especially to those organisations that fact-check content on Facebook: already earlier they had expressed doubt over the efficiency of the efforts. Although Facebook says that the amount of fake news on the platform has decreased, the company has not provided data to support the claim.

In related news, the questions around how advertising on Facebook could have affected the US presidential elections are only intensifying: the Intercept calls for Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the US Congress, highlighting that even Facebook itself promotes advertising on the platform as an effective way to influence political landscape. 

Author

Teemu Henriksson's picture

Teemu Henriksson

Date

2017-09-12 16:08

Author information

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