News literacy messages can fight social media misinformation

by | May 3, 2019 | Blog, Engagement, News literacy, What We're Reading

We’ve covered research on how news literacy messages can change the way people consume news media — here’s a study on how repeated news literacy messaging can mitigate the spread of misinformation.

Designing and Testing News Literacy Messages for Social Media
Mass Communication and Society
By Melissa Tully, Emily K. Vraga and Leticia Bode
April 11, 2019

Social media misinformation is everywhere — in fact, it’s only a phone glance away. University researchers from the University of Iowa, George Mason University and Georgetown University wanted to see how messages about news literacy would impact the way people absorb misinformation on social media platforms.

Researchers used two experiments to test these messages, which were designed to reduce the impact of health misinformation and boost people’s ideas of how news literacy improves society.

They found news literacy messages can counteract misinformation and boost positive beliefs of news literacy, but only with multiple messages to reiterate the point that news literacy is important. Researchers suggested the need to develop targeted campaigns that used multiple messages and calls to action to successfully convince a viewer of news literacy’s importance.


Key Numbers

  • In Study 1, 57 to 66 percent of participants remembered seeing the tweet promoting news literacy, while 85 percent remembered seeing a control tweet about texting while driving.
  • In Study 2, 88 percent remembered seeing the control tweet, while 64 percent remembered seeing the news literacy tweet.

Study Details

  • Researchers conducted Study 1 through an online survey on September 2017 and February 2018. 1,810 participants analyzed a simulated Twitter feed with six tweets, two of which were manipulated for the experiment.
  • Study 2 used 1,214 participants in February 2018.