Friday, June 14, 2024

Misinformation is more harmful than false information

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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Among these misleading news stories are headlines from real media outlets, such as “Surprising Number of Healthcare Workers Refuse to Be Vaccinated Against Coronavirus,” published by the Business Journal. Forbes. Some of these headlines led to viral posts on Facebook, and may have contributed more to vaccine hesitancy than fake news, three researchers from the MIT School of Management and the University of Pennsylvania wrote. Their studies It was published on May 31 in the magazine science.

The researchers analyzed the impact of more than 13,000 messages about vaccines published on Facebook between January and March 2021 (i.e. at the beginning of the vaccination campaign) that contained a hyperlink. They were concerned with the practice that Facebook instituted in 2016-2017, of adding a notice to a message when it was found to be false by one of the fact-checking methods “approved” by their international association (IFCN). The researchers note that this notification had a positive effect: the message was circulated much less frequently on users’ feeds (which is what Facebook promised when it introduced the practice, after the 2016 US presidential election).

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But the misleading content, which was not labeled “false,” continued to be shared unimpeded. It is also possible that because this content often addresses emotions (fear of vaccines, for example), it was shared more. The three authors estimate that these headlines are 46 times as influential as fake news, but they base this only on the number of people who saw these headlines: they cannot say how many people believed them.

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In any case, the influence of “misleading” news. Maybe it went under the radar Researchers who in recent years have analyzed misinformation on social networks are mainly based on the exchange of completely fake news.

Is the fault in the media?Who did not expect the impact of such headlines, or on the part of the misinformed, who used the fact that such headlines came from reliable media outlets to quote them out of context? The researchers do not comment, but acknowledge that many of these headlines being cited without providing context (for example, “surprising number” of healthcare workers may still be a very small percentage) would fuel “misleading narratives.” .

In addition, a very large number of social media users only read the headlines…

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