AUSTIN, Texas – With the presidential election season moving into high gear, campaign messaging will soon begin increasing dramatically. But for those of us who get our news from social media, a new study from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin offers a strong warning: You can’t trust yourself to discern what’s true and what’s not when you’re on Facebook.
In the study, participants fitted with a wireless electroencephalography headset were asked to read political news headlines presented as they would appear in a Facebook feed and determine their credibility. They assessed only 44% correctly, overwhelmingly selecting headlines that aligned with their own political beliefs as true. The EEG headsets tracked their brain activity during the exercise.
“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, assistant professor of information, risk and operations management. “The environment of social media and our own biases make us all much worse than we think.”