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Understanding why people believe and share things that are false is an important part of addressing the spread of misinformation on social media.
A new study from MIT Sloan researchers takes a look at the role of digital literacy — familiarity with basic concepts related to the internet and social media — with mixed results. Digital literacy is associated with more discerning judgement about what’s true and false, but it doesn’t seem to predict whether the person is more or less likely to share false information on social media.
Measuring digital literacy might be useful for identifying social media users who are vulnerable to believing misinformation, but not useful for identifying those who are likely to spread that information.
Other takeaways include the potential impact of shifting users’ attention to accuracy to reduce misinformation, and the suggestion that education aimed at reducing misinformation should focus more generally on procedural news knowledge.
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