Fact or fiction? Experts say spotting fake news on Facebook is not that easy

In 2016, Facebook incorporated fact-checking into its platform.

AP
Researchers noted that Facebook muddies the waters between fact and fiction.
HOUSTON: Misinformation or fake news is not easy to spot on Facebook, according to a study which suggests that the social networking site muddies the waters between fact and fiction.

In the study, published on Tuesday in the journal Management Information Systems Quarterly, participants were fitted with a wireless electroencephalography (EEG) headset which tracked their brain activity during exercise.

They were asked to read political news headlines presented as they would appear in a Facebook feed and determine their credibility.


The participants assessed only 44 per cent correctly, overwhelmingly selecting headlines that aligned with their own political beliefs as true, the researchers said.

"We all believe that we are better than the average person at detecting fake news, but that's simply not possible," said lead author Patricia Moravec, an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin in the US.

"The environment of social media and our own biases make us all much worse than we think," Moravec said in a statement.
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The researchers worked with 80 social media-proficient undergraduate students who first answered 10 questions about their own political beliefs.



Each participant was then fitted with an EEG headset. The students were asked to read 50 political news headlines presented as they would appear in a Facebook feed and assess their credibility.

Forty of the headlines were evenly divided between true and false, with 10 headlines that were clearly true included as controls.
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The researchers randomly assigned fake news flags among the 40 non-control headlines to see what effect they would have on the participants' responses.

In 2016, Facebook incorporated fact-checking into its platform and began flagging certain news articles by noting that an article was "disputed by third-party fact checkers."
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The students rated each headline's believability, credibility and truthfulness.

When the students read headlines which supported their beliefs, but were flagged as false, they spent more time and showed significantly more activity in their frontal cortices -- the brain area associated with arousal, memory access and consciousness.

New Look, Facebook Dating: Big Announcements From F8
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After a tumultuous 2018, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stressed on a privacy-focused social network at the Facebook F8 developer conference this year. In the keynote, Zuckerberg said that they are pushing hard on helping people to connect with close family and friends. He unveiled a revamped and redesigned version of Facebook, called the FB5 which aims at making navigation easier, improve the loading time and giving the user a cleaner appearance. The updated mobile app is rolling out now. The desktop version will be released in the next few months.

Along with changes to the core app, Facebook also announced updates to Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Oculus Quest and Rift S virtual reality headsets — and introduced a new feature, Facebook Dating.

Here's a look at all things new.

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The app's redesign has been the most prominent ever-since the social network's launch. The new look rolls-out in the US today, and for the rest of the world in the coming weeks. The redesign on mobile has been happening in stages, it has already begun on both iOS and Android. The desktop redesign will begin testing in the next few months, which will update the web design to look and feel more modern and fresh, similar to the mobile app.

The app's redesign has been the most prominent ever-since the social network's launch. The new look rolls-out in the US today, and for the rest of the world in the coming weeks. The redesign on mobil..
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With private messaging as one of the fastest growing areas of online communication, the company debuted a desktop version of the app. Previously, you could use Messenger from a web browser, but couldn’t use certain features on the platform like group calling. Facebook is also testing a 'group watch' feature, where people can invite others to watch a video together in real time while messaging or on a video chat.

For businesses, it has created an automated system that allows customers to book an appointment through Messenger.

The company is also working on features that will allow Messenger users to message and call people on Instagram and WhatsApp.

With private messaging as one of the fastest growing areas of online communication, the company debuted a desktop version of the app. Previously, you could use Messenger from a web browser, but could..
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Keeping in mind the theme for this year, 'the future is private', members within groups will be able to anonymously post questions and share information. For those seeking jobs, you will be able to message the employer and apply through the app. Gaming groups will get a chat feature so members can create threads about specific topics within a group. Facebook is working to downplay recommendations from groups known for spreading misinformation, and deleting groups that break the company’s community standards.

Keeping in mind the theme for this year, 'the future is private', members within groups will be able to anonymously post questions and share information. For those seeking jobs, you will be able to m..
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Facebook Dating which was introduced at last year's F8, is now expanding to 14 more countries. It introduced a feature called 'Secret Crush', which does exactly what you’d expect. You can create a secret list of Facebook friends you’re attracted to, whether or not they have a dating profile. You will be lucky, if they are also using Secret Crush, and add you to their list, Facebook will notify the two of you that there’s a match.

Facebook Dating which was introduced at last year's F8, is now expanding to 14 more countries. It introduced a feature called 'Secret Crush', which does exactly what you’d expect. You can create a se..
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Photo sharing app Instagram is getting an update on its camera interface, adding a new 'Create Mode', which makes it easier to share content beyond traditional photos and videos, like quizzes. It is also expanding a feature that lets people buy products from inside the app, opening it to artists, athletes, and other creators in addition to companies. Shifting the focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get, the feature will get a trial run in Canada, and if it proves popular, it might be rolled out in other countries.

Photo sharing app Instagram is getting an update on its camera interface, adding a new 'Create Mode', which makes it easier to share content beyond traditional photos and videos, like quizzes. It is ..
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Two new headsets that replace external tracking cameras with a much more user-friendly inside-out system, the Quest and Rift S both cost $399, and they’re shipping on May 21st in 22 countries. The Quest, a self-contained console is aimed at a mass market, and the Rift S is an incremental upgrade to the 2016 Oculus Rift.

Two new headsets that replace external tracking cameras with a much more user-friendly inside-out system, the Quest and Rift S both cost $399, and they’re shipping on May 21st in 22 countries. The Qu..
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These reactions of discomfort indicated cognitive dissonance when headlines supporting their beliefs were marked as untrue.

However, this dissonance was not enough to make participants change their minds, the researchers found.

They overwhelmingly said that headlines conforming with their preexisting beliefs were true, regardless of whether they were flagged as potentially fake, according to the study.

The flag did not change their initial response to the headline, even if it did make them pause a moment longer and study it a bit more carefully.

The researchers found that political affiliation made no difference in their ability to determine what was true or false.

They noted that Facebook muddies the waters between fact and fiction.

The experiment showed that social media users are highly subject to confirmation bias, the unintentional tendency to gravitate towards and process information that is consistent with existing beliefs, Moravec said.

This can result in decision-making that ignores information which is inconsistent with those beliefs, she said.
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