Why do Americans share so much fake news? One big reason is they aren’t paying attention, new research suggests

By Denise-Marie Ordway

Many Americans share fake news on social media because they’re simply not paying attention to whether the content is accurate — not necessarily because they can’t tell real from made-up news, a new study in Nature suggests.

Lack of attention was the driving factor behind 51.2% of misinformation sharing among social media users who participated in an experiment conducted by a group of researchers from MIT, the University of Regina in Canada, University of Exeter Business School in the United Kingdom and Center for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico. The results of a second, related experiment indicate a simple intervention — prompting social media users to think about news accuracy before posting and interacting with content — might help limit the spread of online misinformation.

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