So says a recent study by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Indiana University, Andrew Sheeler reports for The Sacramento Bee.
The researchers put 83 undergraduates (all familiar with social media) on wireless headsets and had them read political news headlines, some fake, as if they were on Facebook. "Despite being social-media savvy, the participants successfully identified fewer than half, 44 percent, of the fake news stories," Sheeler reports. The students overwhelmingly believed to be true headlines that aligned with their personal political beliefs.
"The study found that fact checking made no difference in the findings," Sheeler reports. "Much as Facebook now uses fact-checking flags to highlight stories that are false or misleading, researchers attached similar flags to the fake news headlines which participants read." Though the flag made participants study headlines more carefully, it didn't change their initial response to a headline. The students' political affiliations didn't influence their ability to detect fake news, and neither did any pre-existing skepticism about the news, the researchers wrote.