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Special Orders


CHALLENGES, AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS Leticia Bode | Georgetown University and Emily K. Vraga | George Mason University


extensions | Winter 2018

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n the wake of the 2016 election, scholars, policymakers, and citizens alike have voiced unease about the existence, spread and effects of misinformation on the American public. A study by the Pew Research Center following the election found that 71 percent of U.S. adults report seeing “completely made up” information online at least sometimes, and 14 percent admit to sharing a political news story they knew to be false. These concerns are heightened by the perception that fake news is gaining traction with the public and may sometimes supersede legitimate news in terms of engagement. Indeed, Craig Silverman, founding editor of BuzzFeed News, reported that in the last three months of the presidential campaign, Facebook’s top-performing fake election news stories generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others. Research into how to correct misinformation that is shared and spread on social media

becomes increasingly important. Our research does just that, investigating different methods for correcting misinformation on social media, where it is being shared, seen, and consumed.

What is Observational Correction? Notably, social media allows for what we call “observational correction.” While correction of misinformation is notoriously difficult,1 social media allows for influence beyond the person sharing the misinformation. That

is, the vast majority of people who see a correction on social media are not those who shared it in the first place. Therefore, they are unlikely to disagree with the correction or to counter-argue its points. 2 As a result, even if the original poster of misinformation continues to believe the story they posted, others will see the claim being challenged and perhaps become more skeptical regarding the quality of the information. According to the Pew Research Center Internet Project survey, the average Facebook user has 338

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Extensions Winter 2018  

Congress in the Era of Fake News

Extensions Winter 2018  

Congress in the Era of Fake News