Fact-Checking Impacts Social Perception but is Prey to Gender and Racial Discrimination
38 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2019 Last revised: 28 Sep 2020
Date Written: September 1, 2020
We examine the problem of the proliferation of misinformation through platforms that offer a solution – fact-checking platforms. While these platforms have become popular, there is scant evidence on their effectiveness to shape public perception. In particular, we are interested in understanding how race and gender impact perceptions of the warmth, morality and competence of a spokesperson (i.e. the public figures making a claim) and how these perceptions are altered by reducing information asymmetry, i.e. by offering fact-checking information. In a lab experiment where we replicate the PolitiFact interface and manipulate gender (male vs. female), race (Caucasian vs. under-represented minority), truth evaluation (false vs. true) and supporting information (scorecard vs. full analysis), we find compelling results that 1) support that race and gender bias effects persist when evaluating the morality and competence of a spokesperson making a claim; but 2) show that reducing information asymmetry can help mitigate some of these biases. By focusing on a single and highly popular response to the problem of fake news, fact-checking, and by further examining the role of the spokesperson in contrast to the content or statements made, we provide novel, interesting, and important perspective on understanding how to intervene in the proliferation and propagation of misinformation online.
Keywords: Digital Platforms, Fake News, Fact-Checking, Information Asymmetry, Bias
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