Can we prime users to verify information? A study of visual attention to page cues and information search in response to online misinformation styled as news.

Accepted for presentation at the 69th annual International Communication Association (ICA) conference, Washington, D.C.

ABSTRACT: Misinformation that borrows from the design conventions of online news, often called simply “fake news,” is intentionally misleading and deceptive information packaged and disseminated in such a way that it mimics legitimate news (Tandoc, Lim, & Ling, 2018). The spread of misinformation styled as news is not only troublesome in the context journalism, but also hints at larger issues regarding how easily misinformation can be spread.
This study examines the extent to which consumers follow suggestions given to them to help detect misinformation online, and the influence of these suggestions and their subsequent evaluation strategies on their credibility assessments and confidence in those judgments. In a between-subjects laboratory experiment, news consumers were presented with two different intervention strategies prior to their viewing and evaluating an online article that made some unfounded claims about the role of genetically modified insects in the spread of the Zika virus. Results showed that while most participants attempted to verify the claims through researching information, they were not able to accurately detect that the article was not true.

Bartosz Wojdynski  Brittany Nicole Jefferson  Matthew Binford  Hyoyeun Jun