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That's right. A new study co-authored by an MIT professor shows that crowdsourced judgments about the quality of news sources may effectively marginalize false news stories and other kinds of online misinformation.
"What we found is that, while there are real disagreements among Democrats and Republicans concerning mainstream news outlets, basically everybody -- Democrats, Republicans, and professional fact-checkers -- agree that the fake and hyperpartisan sites are not to be trusted," says David Rand, an MIT scholar and co-author of a new paper detailing the study's results.
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Indeed, using a pair of public-opinion surveys to evaluate of 60 news sources, the researchers found that Democrats trusted mainstream media outlets more than Republicans do -- with the exception of Fox News, which Republicans trusted far more than Democrats did. But when it comes to lesser-known sites peddling false information, as well as "hyperpartisan" political websites (the researchers include Breitbart and Daily Kos in this category), both Democrats and Republicans show a similar disregard for such sources. Trust levels for these alternative sites were low overall. For instance, in one survey, when respondents were asked to give a trust rating from 1 to 5 for news outlets, the result was that hyperpartisan websites received a trust rating of only 1.8 from both Republicans and Democrats; fake news sites received a trust rating of only 1.7 from Republicans and 1.9 from Democrats. By contrast, mainstream media outlets received a trust rating of 2.9 from Democrats but only 2.3 from Republicans; Fox News, however, received a trust rating of 3.2 from Republicans, compared to 2.4 from Democrats.
The study adds a twist to a high-profile issue. False news stories have proliferated online in recent years, and social media sites such as Facebook have received sharp criticism for giving them visibility. Facebook also faced pushback for a January...
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