Inflammatory fake news is a huge menace to society that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
However, one of the most effective ways of tackling it could be with crowdsourcing, according to a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
To come to their conclusion the MIT researchers conducted two online surveys with approximately 1,000 participants in each. They were asked to rate their trust in news sources across three categories: mainstream media outlets, hyper-partisan websites, and websites that openly produced fake news.
Respondents had demographic characteristics resembling that of the United States as a whole. Researchers also asked fact-checkers the same survey questions so that they could compare responses.
The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the trust ratings of the general public matched those of the expert fact-checkers.
"Our results show that laypeople are much better than many would have expected at knowing which outlets to trust," said MIT Sloan School of Management Prof. David Rand.
"Although there were clear partisan differences, with Republicans distrusting all mainstream outlets (except for Fox News) relative to Democrats, there was a remarkable consensus regarding non-mainstream outlets being untrustworthy."
Marginalizing Fake News
What this means going forward is that crowdsourcing could be used to marginalize false news and misinformation. For example, by building audience judgments into an algorithm that ranked stories by quality.
Social media platforms could question users about how much they trust various outlets, and then promote content from news sites that have high trust ratings thereby denying fake news the opportunity to spread.
To read the study click here.