Legitimate News or Not? Scientists Find Out Why People Can’t Tell the Difference Between Real News and Satire on Social Media

Researchers at the Ohio State University have found there may be clear downsides to getting news from social media. And not for the reasons you might think.

Researchers found that when people view a blend of news and entertainment through a single portal, through a single social media app they pay less attention to the source of content they consumed. Meaning there is a higher risk for mistaking satire for news or vice versa.

When consuming content that is separated into clearly defined categories (a news section, entertainment section, health and wellness etc.) they didn’t have the same problems deciding on the credibility of the content.

The scientists involved in this research believe they have found a legitimate danger when it comes to people blending news and entertainment viewing on apps like Facebook and Twitter. Researchers stated that while people like that one-stop-shop idea for media content, that jumbling of content makes everything seem the same or equal to us.

The issues is that there is no visual difference on Facebook, for example, between something like the New York Times and a random blog. Everything is the same, color scheme, font, frames etc. So one obvious solution would be for social media companies to develop ways to distinguish content.

Until something like this happens researchers believe that using social media as a one stop shop for content could be reducing positive media literacy behaviors.