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Confronting Disinformation Spreaders on Twitter Only Makes It Worse, MIT Scientists Say

Saturday May 15, 2021. 12:45 AM , from Slashdot
According to a new study conducted by researchers at MIT, being corrected online just makes the original posters more toxic and obnoxious. From a report: Basically, the new thinking is that correcting fake news, disinformation, and horrible tweets at all is bad and makes everything worse. This is a 'perverse downstream consequence for debunking,' and is the exact title of MIT research published in the '2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.' The core takeaway is that 'being corrected by another user for posting false political news increases subsequent sharing of low quality, partisan, and toxic content.'

The MIT researchers' work is actually a continuation of their study into the effects of social media. This recent experiment started because the team had previously discovered something interesting about how people behave online. 'In a recent paper published in Nature, we found that a simple accuracy nudge -- asking people to judge the accuracy of a random headline -- improved the quality of the news they shared afterward (by shifting their attention towards the concept of accuracy),' David Rand, an MIT researcher and co-author of the paper told Motherboard in an email. 'In the current study, we wanted to see whether a similar effect would happen if people who shared false news were directly corrected,' he said. 'Direct correction could be an even more powerful accuracy prime -- or, it could backfire by making people feel defensive or focusing their attention on social factors (eg embarrassment) rather than accuracy.'

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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