Understanding and Reducing the Spread of Misinformation Online

WED, FEB 5, 2020 (1:24:39)

David Rand gives an overview of his work assessing various interventions against misinformation and “fake news” on social media. He starts by discussing the limitations of two of the most commonly discussed approaches: warnings based on professional fact-checking, which are not scalable and can increase belief in misinformation which is not flagged; and emphasizing publishers, which is ineffective because untrusted outlets typically produce headlines that are judged as inaccurate even without knowing the source.

He offers two promising approaches: nudging social media users to think about accuracy, which he shows increases the quality of news shared in a field experiment with over 5000 Twitter users who previously tweeted Breitbart links, and using crowdsourcing to identify misinformation, as he shows that crowds of laypeople produce judgments that are highly aligned with professional fact-checkers.

Image: Pexels.com

+ BIO: David Rand

David Rand is the Erwin H. Schell Professor and an Associate Professor of Management Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT Sloan, and the Director of the Human Cooperation Laboratory and the Applied Cooperation Team.

Bridging the fields of behavioral economics and psychology, David’s research combines mathematical/computational models with human behavioral experiments and online/field studies to understand human behavior. His work uses a cognitive science perspective grounded in the tension between more intuitive versus deliberative modes of decision-making, and explores topics such as cooperation/prosociality, punishment/condemnation, perceived accuracy of false or misleading news stories, political preferences, and the dynamics of social media platform behavior.

David received his BA in Computational Biology from Cornell University in 2004 and his PhD in Systems Biology from Harvard University in 2009, was a post-doctoral researcher in Harvard University’s Department of Psychology from 2009 to 2013, and was an Assistant and then Associate Professor of Psychology, Economics, and Management at Yale University prior to joining the faculty at MIT.

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Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
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