New Study Reveals Key Misconceptions About Misinformation

Misinformation can seem like a really big threat, but in spite of the fact that this is the case it actually comprises a relatively small subset of the total aggregate information that is available online with all things having been considered and taken into account. A new study published in the journal Social Media + Society.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that this is just one of the many misconceptions that people tend to have about fake news. Another false assumption that the study noted was that such misinformation can only be seen on social media, even though it is just as prevalent on mainstream media along with other forms of media.

People also often believe that fake news spreads like wildfire, whereas the truth takes a much longer time to spread around. This is actually not all that accurate, since much of the data that is dubbed misinformation is actually just politically biased which means that it inhabits an entirely distinct category and is less harmful than might have been the case otherwise.

Another common assumption about misinformation is that the majority of people accept it at face value. If this were true, it would definitely be dangerous because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making fake ideas take root in the public consciousness.

However, the research simply does not back this up. Even though misinformation can in fact spread fairly quickly, there is nothing to suggest that most people that come across it would believe it without doing a bit of fact checking first.

This study also revealed that people being misinformed is actually a relatively rare phenomenon. Their voices are simply amplified on social media due to the algorithm, even though the majority of people might actually disagree with them if they are presented with their ideas.

Finally, it turns out that misinformation might not actually have all that great of an impact on how people behave. There is clearly a lot that we have yet to learn about fake news, and this study confirms this.

Illustration @redgreystock / Freepik

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