Why Do People Share Fake News? A Sociotechnical Model of Media Effects

Alice E. Marwick (headsnot)Verrit, like Snopes, Politifact, and a host of other fact-checking sites, reflect fundamental misunderstandings about how information circulates online, what function political information plays in social contexts, and how and why people change their political opinions. Fact-checking is in many ways a response to the rapidly changing norms and practices of journalism, news gathering, and public debate. In other words, fact-checking best resembles a movement for reform within journalism, particularly in a moment when many journalists and members of the public believe that news coverage of the 2016 election contributed to the loss of Hillary Clinton. However, fact-checking (and another frequently-proposed solution, media literacy) is ineffectual in many cases and, in other cases, may cause people to “double-down” on their incorrect beliefs, producing a backlash effect. —Alice E. Marwick, Georgetown Law Technical Review