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Establishing Credibility of News Sources Can Combat Spread of Fake News

Researchers found that when news about the arrest came from police reports, gut-level attitudes toward Kevin immediately became more negative

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Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York. VOA

Establishing credibility for news sources is the right policy to combat the spread of fake news and misinformation on social media platforms, say researchers.

Fake news has become a threat to democratic institutions worldwide and false information can have far-reaching effects.

Researchers from Cornell University now provide new evidence that people’s beliefs about the source of information affects how they take in that information, even at the level of their automatic responses.

They also found that new information can modify or even undo existing impressions caused by fake news.

“We wanted to know whether offering information about the source of news matters for people’s gut-level, automatic reactions,” said Melissa Ferguson, Psychology Professor at Cornell.

“Does knowing that something is fake have lingering pernicious effects that can later shape and influence our thoughts and behaviour toward the person? Our studies suggest that establishing credibility for news sources is the right policy to combat fake news,” Ferguson emphasized.

Ferguson and her fellow researchers conducted seven experiments with more than 3,100 participants to assess how the truth value of new information about others affected both their reported feelings and their gut-level, automatic reactions.

Donald Trump
Trump supporter holds a T-shirt reading “You Are Fake News” before a rally by President Donald Trump in Rochester, Minnesota, Oct. 4, 2018. Freedom House says that democracy in the U.S. weakened significantly and blames U.S. President Donald Trump for “ongoing attacks.” (Representational image). VOA

The experiments ranged from using video games and narratives of inter-group conflicts to studies featuring an individual named Kevin.

In one experiment, Kevin was depicted positively. Participants were then told something disturbing, including that he had been arrested for abusing his wife.

Researchers found that when news about the arrest came from police reports, gut-level attitudes toward Kevin immediately became more negative.

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But when that information was attributed to a friend of Kevin’s former girlfriend, participants retained their positive attitude toward Kevin.

“In other words, whether participants thought this new information was true determined even their automatic feelings,” the researchers wrote in a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a separate experiment, this occurred even if participants initially thought the information was true and only later discovered that it was from a questionable source, the study noted. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Bans Several Groups Promoting Fake Cancer Treatments

The groups had promoted the use of black salve, a paste typically made from bloodroot and zinc chloride that is so caustic it eats away at the skin

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Facebook
Facebook wants everyone using its platform to feel safe and is continually reviewing its Groups for any violations. Pixabay

Facebook has banned several groups promoting fake cancer treatments under the social network’s rules about violent and criminal behaviour, the media reported.

According to a report in BuzzFeed News, two of the groups that have been banned from Facebook together had around 33,000 members.

The groups had promoted the use of black salve, a paste typically made from bloodroot and zinc chloride that is so caustic it eats away at the skin.

Users in the groups were found suggesting the use of this paste as a cure for breast cancer, or even ingesting it to treat other ailments.

While the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not allow the sale of black salve, users in those banned Facebook groups provided information on where to buy it on websites hosted outside the country and have it shipped, or traded do-it-yourself recipes, said the report.

Facebook
Facebook has banned several groups promoting fake cancer treatments under the social network’s rules about violent and criminal behaviour, the media reported. Pixabay

Facebook wants everyone using its platform to feel safe and is continually reviewing its Groups for any violations, CNET on Wednesday quoted a spokesperson as saying.

ALSO READ: Google Issues Warning of Data Breach for Indian Users After Fixing Chrome 79 Bug

“(We) take appropriate action against any Group found to be breaking our policies as soon as we become aware of it,” the Facebook spokesperson said. (IANS)