Facebook News Feed Is Giving People Misinformation And False Confidence, Research Proved

A new research published in SAGE Journals proved that short article previews seen on Facebook make people overconfident about their knowledge and information.

Political science assistant professor, Nicolas Anspach at York College of Pennsylvania said that years ago people had to either turn on televisions or read newspapers to know about politics or any other news. Whereas now just by scrolling your social media accounts you get to see a lot of news on your feed and most of them are either from friends or family.

The study was based on three groups of people. A group of 320 people read an article about the safety of genetically modified foods from the Washington Post. The second group of 319 participants was asked to read 4 article previews out of which one was about genetically modified food. Whereas, the third group was used as a control and 351 people were not given anything to read.

Then a test was conducted among these groups in which 6 questions were asked about genetically modified food. Also, to check the confidence level, they were asked about what is the expected number of questions they will be able to answer accurately.
The results showed that people who read a proper article answered the most number of questions. While people who read news feed, on average, were able to answer only one question more than the people who did not read anything. Participants who read through news feed also had to overestimate their correct answers.

Anspach said that social media is capable of giving users knowledge but with it comes overconfidence about their knowledge. This false confidence might increase the political participation of people, but there is no guarantee that whether social media will guide its users correctly or not.

Anspach also explained that in the experiment only factual information was used, but in reality, there is a lot of wasted information available there. Social media may educate its audience but there is an equal risk of spreading misinformation. The experiment also showed that people believed in comments more than the actual information given in the article preview.

It is expected that another study will be done in detail in which demographics and other factors will also be considered to see how people react towards a certain info.

Just reading your Facebook news feed and articles preview can make you overconfident about a topic, and it is not a good sign
Photo: Marco Piunti - Getty Images

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