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Trust and Distrust in Online Fact-Checking Services


Credit: Tampa Bay Times

While the internet has the potential to give people ready access to relevant and factual information, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have made filtering and assessing online content increasingly difficult due to its rapid flow and enormous volume. In fact, 49% of social media users in the U.S. in 2012 received false breaking news through social media.8 Likewise, a survey by Silverman11 suggested in 2015 that false rumors and misinformation disseminated further and faster than ever before due to social media. Political analysts continue to discuss misinformation and fake news in social media and its effect on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Such misinformation challenges the credibility of the Internet as a venue for authentic public information and debate. In response, over the past five years, a proliferation of outlets has provided fact checking and debunking of online content. Fact-checking services, say Kriplean et al.,6 provide "... evaluation of verifiable claims made in public statements through investigation of primary and secondary sources." An international census from 2017 counted 114 active fact-checking services, a 19% increase over the previous year.12 To benefit from this trend, Google News in 2016 let news providers tag news articles or their content with fact-checking information "... to help readers find fact checking in large news stories."3 Any organization can use the fact-checking tag, if it is non-partisan, transparent, and targets a range of claims within an area of interest and not just one single person or entity.


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