Consuming Fake News Again and Again on Social Media Makes It Appear Real, Study Confirms

Are you someone who shares a lot of posts and articles on their social networking accounts? Why do you post it? Sometimes you might be excited about the news, sometimes it gives you joy or sometimes you find it informative. But, would you share something that you know is fake?

A study by Psychological Science researched people’s motivation to share fake news. Medha Raj and Daniel Effron confirm that fake news appears multiple times on social media, which makes it appear as real as it can be.

The hypothesis of the study was that people were more likely to trust a headline if they see it more than one time.

To confirm the hypothesis, the research was conducted on 150 American adults. At first, the participants were encouraged to read some fake news headlines that included political news and others. Note that, the participants were aware of the fact that the news was fake.

Here comes the main part of the experiment. After a gap of 5-minutes, the participants were made to see another series of fake news after which the participants were asked about their take on the news. The series included some news from the previous series; whereas, some were new.

As a result, the participants rated previous headlines as more ethical as compared to others. This shows that previous exposure to fake headlines makes it look more ethical and true.


A follow-up study included the same experiment, but the participants were exposed four times to the headlines. This experiment also showed that the news that appeared more than once appeared more ethical.

Hence, the results of the study prove that if a headline appears more than once, then it is more likely to be shared and trusted.

In short, fake news that appears more than one time received less moral condemnation from the users. Hence, it appears as true as any other authentic news.

Misinformation and Morality: Encountering Fake-News Headlines Makes Them Seem Less Unethical to Publish and Share
Photo: Karl Tapales / Getty

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