‘Fake News’ Can’t Be Flagged Down

Even when the content is flagged as potentially false, Facebook users believe headlines that align with their political beliefs. Telling the difference between fact and fiction on Facebook is more complicated than most of us would like to believe. It can be challenging for users to reach judgments about truth and falsehood when legitimate news appears alongside animal memes, family updates, videos from friends, and paid content. “We all believe that we are better than the average person at detecting fake news, but that’s simply not possible,” says Texas McCombs Assistant Professor Patricia Moravec. “The environment of social media and our own biases makes us all much worse than we think.” Facebook’s algorithmically determined personalized feeds supply targeted information — and disinformation. But do users really believe the fake news that populates their Facebook accounts? Are there tools that can help readers tell what’s legitimate news and what’s not? “Scrolling through social media is something people do to relax, so they’re in a passive, pleasure-seeking state of mind when they do so,” says lead author Moravec, assistant professor of information, risk and operations management. “This is different from the more purposeful mindset of a person who actively chooses to take time out of their day to read, watch, or listen to a daily news report from a reputable news source.” (…) The experiment showed that social media users are highly subject to confirmation bias, or the unintentional tendency to gravitate toward and process information that is consistent with existing beliefs, Moravec says. This can result in decision-making that ignores information that is inconsistent with those beliefs. The fact that social media perpetuates and feeds this bias is a disturbing issue for society, Moravec says. “People have to constantly make decisions without having all the facts,” she says. “But if the facts that you do have are polluted by fake news that you truly believe, then the decisions you make are going to be much worse.”

via medium: ‘Fake News’ Can’t Be Flagged Down

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