Short lists of tips to assist in judging the trustworthiness of information online

What is the boost

This boost takes the form of a simple list of tips to assist users in judging the trustworthiness of information online (much like the fast-and-frugal decision trees also examined on this webpage).

How does the boost work?

Simple tips, such as “Be skeptical of headlines. False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.”, appear directly in the online environment itself (e.g., pop-ups in a browser) so people can apply them directly to what they are seeing. The tips are easy to understand and remember, encouraging people to be more critical about what they see online.

Which competences does the boost foster?

Judging the trustworthiness of information online.

Which challenges does the boost tackle?

False and misleading information and the difficulties of scaling up quality control done by human fact-checkers who review content post hoc (e.g.,

What is the evidence behind the boost?

A simple-list intervention was tested in a field experiment on Facebook and its effects were measured in the United States and India. It made people more skeptical towards false news headlines; in the U.S. sample, these effects persisted for several weeks.

How is the boost implemented?

This boost does not necessarily require the cooperation of an online platform as it can be run as a public service campaign, but ideally it would be integrated directly into news feeds.

Key reference

Guess, A. M., Lerner, M., Lyons, B., Montgomery, J. M., Nyhan, B., Reifler, J., & Sircar, N. (2020). A digital media literacy intervention increases discernment between mainstream and false news in the United States and India. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117, 15536–15545.