Checking and Sharing Alt-Facts

DATE: 2020-06-01

By Henry, Emeric, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya and Surgei Guriev

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy Vol. 14, No. 3 (Aug 2022): pp. 55-86.



Using an online randomized experiment in the context of the 2019 European elections campaign in France, we study how fact-checking affects sharing of false news on social media. We exposed over 4200 voting-age French to statements on the role of the EU made by the extreme right populist party Rassemblement National. A randomly selected subgroup of experiment participants was also presented with fact-checking of these statements; another subgroup was offered a choice whether to view the fact-checking or not. Then, all participants could choose whether to share the false statements on their Facebook pages. We show that: (i) both imposed and voluntary fact-checking reduced sharing of false statements by more than 25%; (ii) the size of the effect was similar between imposed and voluntary fact-checking; and (iii) each additional click required to share false statements reduced sharing by 75%.

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