Can signing a “pro-truth pledge” actually change people’s behavior online?

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

“Elections in India are now fought and won on WhatsApp.” The Washington Post’s Annie Gowen and Elizabeth Dwoskin look at news-sharing (plus the spread of “fake news and religious hatred” on closed messaging platform WhatsApp in India, during a high-profile election in the state of Karnataka this month and ahead of the country’s national election next year. India is the Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s largest market; it has more than 200 million users there. While Facebook partnered with Indian fact-checking site Boom to fact-check news on that platform, “little has been done in this cycle to combat incendiary content on WhatsApp…Indian officials, feeling helpless to stop the spread of WhatsApp content, have resorted to Continue reading "Can signing a “pro-truth pledge” actually change people’s behavior online?"

This program made people better at identifying disinformation. (They still weren’t great at knowing what to trust.)

The success of media literacy programs is often described in terms of number of people reached, rather than by how (or if) they actually change people’s behavior in the long run. It’s not even clear what metrics to judge them on. But a new report from a media literacy course run in Ukraine suggests that the program actually was able to change participants’ behavior — even 18 months after they’d completed the course. The program was called Learn to Discern (L2D); it was run by global development and education nonprofit IREX with funding from the Canadian government and support from local organizations Academy of Ukrainian Press and StopFake (which Nieman Lab covered four years ago). First, the raw numbers: IREX says that its L2D seminars “reached more than 15,000 people of all ages and professional backgrounds” through a “train the trainers” model, in which 361 community leaders were trained
Continue reading "This program made people better at identifying disinformation. (They still weren’t great at knowing what to trust.)"

Trump Blasts ‘Fake News Media’ for Not Reporting on AT&T’s Planned Merger With Time Warner

On Friday, President Donald Trump blasted the “fake news media” for not reporting on litigation revolving around AT&T’s planned merger with Time Warner in a tweet that seemed to come out of nowhere. “Why doesn’t the Fake News Media state that the Trump Administration’s Anti-Trust Division has been, and is, opposed to the AT&T purchase of Time Warner in a currently ongoing Trial,” Trump wrote. “Such a disgrace in reporting!” While his exact intent was not clear, Trump was likely reacting to reports that his lawyer Michael Cohen was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by AT&T for a consulting gig that actually amounted to Cohen Continue reading "Trump Blasts ‘Fake News Media’ for Not Reporting on AT&T’s Planned Merger With Time Warner"

People who are delusional, dogmatic, or religious fundamentalists are more likely to believe fake news

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

People prone to psychosis are also more likely to believe fake news. Is there a certain kind of person who is more likely to believe fake news? Yes: “Belief in fake news was associated with increased endorsement of delusion-like ideation,” according to a working paper from Yale’s Michael Bronstein, Gordon Pennycook, Adam Bear, Tyrone Cannon, and David Rand, presented at the recent Schizophrenia International Research Conference. From the paper:

Two studies with over 1,000 participants suggested that individuals who endorse delusion-like ideas (e.g., thinking that people can communicate telepathically), as well as dogmatic individuals and religious fundamentalists, are more likely to believe fake news. These studies also suggested that two related forms of
Continue reading "People who are delusional, dogmatic, or religious fundamentalists are more likely to believe fake news"

Explainers are tedious. Fact-checks can feel partisan. Is there a third way?

Further research on these other forms of media would be good, especially considering how rare it is these days for any region to have two local papers competing with each other. In the case of the Florida papers that Archer looked at, for instance — The left-leaning Tampa Bay Times and right-leaning Tampa Tribune — the Times acquired the Tribune in 2016, and there’s now just one newspaper for Tampa Bay. (One of the questions in the acquisition FAQ for readers: “I’ve preferred the Tribune because I want conservative viewpoints on the editorial pages. Does the Times publish those?”) The EU tells big tech companies that the clock’s ticking. The European Commission rolled out new guidelines for online platforms and search engines in Europe. From The Wall Street Journal:
The European Commission — the bloc’s executive body— proposed new EU-wide regulations that would require web platforms, including Continue reading "Explainers are tedious. Fact-checks can feel partisan. Is there a third way?"

Can Facebook beat back the fake news in Ireland’s upcoming vote on abortion?

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

Facebook ad transparency ahead of Ireland’s abortion referendum. On May 25, Irish citizens will vote on whether to end the country’s abortion ban. In advance of the referendum, CNN’s Ivana Kottasová reports, Facebook is rolling out a new tool that will “give users more information about political advertisements and sponsored posts in their News Feeds.” It’s already been tested in Canada and will roll out globally before the U.S. midterms. The Independent’s Adrian Weckler has more on how the tool will work:

Under the new ad transparency system, Irish users can see all ads an advertiser is running on Facebook at the same time, even if those ads are not in the
Continue reading "Can Facebook beat back the fake news in Ireland’s upcoming vote on abortion?"

People read news differently (i.e., worse) on phones than they do on desktop, new research suggests

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

People seem to pay better attention to news presented on desktop than on mobile. What changes as people read more news on mobile than desktop? A new paper by Texas A&M’s Johanna Dunaway, Kathleen Searles, Mingxiao Sui, and Newly Paul, published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (h/t Jane Elizabeth) looks at this:

We argue that attention to news on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones is not the same as attention to news for those on computers. Our research uses eye tracking in two lab experiments to capture the effects of mobile device use on news attention. We also conduct a large-scale study of web traffic data to provide further Continue reading "People read news differently (i.e., worse) on phones than they do on desktop, new research suggests"