Efforts to combat fake news rarely reach the people most exposed to the falsehoods, resulting in a “preaching to the choir” effect that has limited impact.
That’s the conclusion of a new study from big data firm Alto Data Analytics that focused on fact-checking information Twitter in the European Union. Checked and corrected facts reached only 2.2% to 6.5% of the most relevant users in France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, according to Alto Data. In other words, about 95% of fact-checking — the follow-up reports that either correct or confirm a story — isn’t read.
Alto Data suggested further research into prioritization of fact-checked content in search engines like Google and digital communities like Facebook and YouTube. It also said different types of content, such as memes, videos or articles, should be tested to determine what format people respond to most.
- Facebook quadrupled its number of fact-checkers following Russia’s interference with the U.S. 2016 election. Its chat platform WhatsApp also launched its first fact-check service in April ahead of India’s national elections.
- In June, the EU published a report detailing attempts to spread false information ahead of May’s European Parliament elections. The EU also called upon Facebook, Google and Twitter to do more to fight fake news on their respective platforms.
- Twitter recently acquired Fabula AI, a machine learning startup that helps identify manipulated information. A number of other startups have also garnered strong investor attention, such as Distil Networks and Digital Shadows, which have raised $129 million and $48 million to date, respectively.
- Karma Take: Efforts to find and fix fake news are doing little, creating an opening for innovative startups that can find ways to limit the spread of false information while protecting free speech.