Abstract: In recent years, online misinformation designed to resemble news by adopting news design conventions has proven to be a powerful vehicle for deception and persuasion. In a 2 (prior warning: present/absent) x 2 (article type: false/true) eye-tracking experiment, news consumers (N=49) viewed four science news articles from unfamiliar sources, then rated each article for credibility before being asked to classify each as true news or as false information presented as news. Results show that reminding participants about the existence of fake news significantly improved correct classification of false news articles, but did not lead to a significant increase in misclassification of true news articles as false. Analysis of eye-tracking data showed that duration of visual attention to news identifier elements, such as the headline, byline, timestamp on a page, predicted correct article classification. Implications for consumer education and information design are discussed.
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.