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Does Correcting Online Falsehoods Make Matters Worse?


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Taking issue with a posting online.

Not only is misinformation increasing online, but attempting to correct it politely on Twitter can have negative consequences.

Credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT

A Twitter field experiment by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that after corrections to tweeted misinformation, there was an increase in retweeting lower-quality and more partisan news.

The experiment involved using a series of Twitter bot accounts to issue corrections and links to accurate information in response to 2,000 Twitter users who had tweeted one of 11 frequently repeated false news articles.

In the 24 hours after being corrected, the researchers found the accuracy of news sources retweeted by these users fell about 1%.

An analysis of more than 7,000 retweets with links to political content during that period showed a more than 1% increase in partisan lean and a 3% increase in toxic language.

MIT's David G. Rand said, "It seems that getting publicly corrected by another user shifted people's attention away from accuracy—perhaps to other social factors, such as embarrassment."

From MIT News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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