There’s no doubt that the world of fact-checking has experienced a boom over the last decade. But are we any closer to truly understanding the phenomenon of misinformation, or how to stop it?
There’s a plethora of fresh research that helps answer this question, as media scholars and researchers study and explore how different kinds of misinformation behave in different contexts.
Here’s a list of three recent findings that prove helpful for fact-checkers looking to gain some insight on the motivations behind the spread of mis/disinformation.
Misinformation isn’t just about facts, it’s about stories
Human beings are natural storytellers; judging from the dramatic scenes found in cave paintings in France that date 30,000 years back, it’s safe to assume that narratives have been an essential part of human life for thousands of years.
Stories can be so powerful, in fact, that Imke Henkel from the University of Lincoln argues that our tendency to choose riveting narrative over factual accuracy can make us more susceptible to false claims, or myths.
Henkel analyzed news coverage around seven “Euromyths”— popular exaggerated or made-up stories about the European Union, which the European Commission keeps an index of — and found that many of them play on the same repetitive nationalistic themes: “Ridicule and laughter, irreverence and defiance, British exceptionalism, and the capacity to unmask and stand up to nonsensical rules,” she wrote in a study published in Journalism Education in February of 2018.
“(They) create the persistent myth of the (mostly) laughing, irreverent Briton
Read more here: https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2019/why-is-fake-news-so-prevalent-researchers-offer-some-answers/