Sunday December 8, 2019
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Fake News Spreads Like Wildfire On Social Media

Misinformation can stoke political polarisation and undermine democracy

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Fake news on social media
The researchers noted that efforts to curtail misinformation typically focus on helping people distinguish fact from fiction. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found that people who repeatedly encounter a fake news item may feel less unethical about sharing it on social media, even when they don’t believe the information, according to a new study.

In a series of experiments involving more than 2,500 people, the study published in the journal Psychological Science, found that seeing a fake headline just once leads individuals to temper their disapproval of the misinformation when they see it a second, third, or fourth time.

“The findings have important implications for policymakers and social media companies trying to curb the spread of misinformation online,” said study researcher Daniel A. Effron from the London Business School.

“We suggest that efforts to fight misinformation should consider how people judge the morality of spreading it, not just whether they believe it,” Effron added.

Across five experiments, Effron and researcher Medha Raj asked online survey participants to rate how unethical or acceptable they thought it would be to publish a fake headline, and how likely they would be to “like”, share, and block or unfollow the person who posted it.

As they expected, the researchers found that participants rated headlines they had seen more than once as less unethical to publish than headlines they were shown for the first time.

Fake news
Facebook Adds New Measures to Enforce Targeting Restrictions on Potentially Discriminatory Ad Types. Pixabay

Participants also said they were more likely to ‘like’ and share a previously seen headline and less likely to block or unfollow the person who posted it.

What’s more, they did not rate the previously seen headline as significantly more accurate than the new ones, the researchers said.

The researchers noted that efforts to curtail misinformation typically focus on helping people distinguish fact from fiction.

Facebook, for example, has tried informing users when they try to share news that fact-checkers have flagged as false.

But such strategies may fail if users feel more comfortable sharing misinformation they know is fake when they have seen it before.

The researchers theorise that repeating misinformation lends it a ‘ring of truthfulness’ that can increase people’s tendency to give it a moral pass, regardless of whether they believe it.

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“The results should be of interest to citizens of contemporary democracies,” Effron said.

“Misinformation can stoke political polarisation and undermine democracy, so it is important for people to understand when and why it spreads,” Effron added. (IANS)

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WhatsApp to Support “Call Waiting” Feature

Meanwhile, the latest WhatsApp beta update has brought three new options for dark mode on the app

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WhatsApp
Call waiting is available in v2.19.352 stable (APK Mirror) and above of WhatsApp, and v2.19.128 (APK Mirror) of WhatsApp Business. Pixabay

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has become the latest Voice over Internet Protocol services provider to support call waiting feature even as the company has skipped adding call holding for now.

When you’re already talking on the phone and another person tries to call you, most phones and operators let you know that you’ve got a call waiting. Very few VOIP services support that, though, and WhatsApp wasn’t among them until now, Android Police reported on Friday.

Earlier, when somebody would try to call you on WhatsApp while you were already on the phone, they would hear it ring, but, no one would answer. The call would then get disconnected.

Call waiting is available in v2.19.352 stable (APK Mirror) and above of WhatsApp, and v2.19.128 (APK Mirror) of WhatsApp Business, the report added.

WhatsApp
Facebook-owned WhatsApp has become the latest Voice over Internet Protocol services provider to support call waiting feature even as the company has skipped adding call holding for now. Pixabay

Meanwhile, the latest WhatsApp beta update has brought three new options for dark mode on the app.

The light theme would offer a white background. Dark theme, as the name suggests, would enable dark mode on WhatsApp, according to WABetaInfo, a fan website that tracks WhatsApp updates.

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Another option, which is ‘Set by Battery Saver’, dark mode would be activated only when the smartphone’s battery level drops below a certain point. This third option is said to be available only for smartphones running on Android 9.0 or older. (IANS)