Argument: Misinformation and Biases Infect Social Media, Both Intentionally and Accidentally
This chapter focuses on the following activities to support your understanding of the article, Misinformation & Biases, and to help you develop your academic vocabulary fluency.
- Structure of Academic Vocabulary
- Identifying & Using Reporting Verbs
Printable worksheets for students can be found in the instructor section at the end of the text.
Structure of Academic Vocabulary
Identifying & Using Reporting Verbs
When writing about research or other sources of information, reporting verbs are often used. They can be divided into several categories.
Verbs for Paraphrasing Research Findings and Facts
The following verbs are often used when research findings and facts are introduced:
|Know||Be aware||Reveal||Show||Point out|
- Recent studies have shown, for instance, that correcting partisan misperceptions does not backfire most of the time — contrary to the results of Professors Nyhan and Reifler described above — but instead leads to more accurate beliefs.
- Our research has identified three types of bias that make the social media ecosystem vulnerable to both intentional and accidental misinformation.
Verbs for Paraphrasing Opinions
The following verbs are often used when opinions of authors are described:
- We believe that people often just don’t think critically enough about the information they encounter.
- This body of evidence suggests that the main factor explaining the acceptance of fake news could be cognitive laziness, especially in the context of social media, where news items are often skimmed or merely glanced at.
Practice: Finding Reporting Verbs
Read the following sentences. Pay attention to the verbs used and decide whether the sentence describes research findings or opinions:
- [Botometer] has revealed that as many as 15 percent of Twitter accounts show signs of being bots.
- Much of the debate among researchers falls into two opposing camps. One group claims that our ability to reason is hijacked by our partisan convictions: that is, we’re prone to rationalization. The other group — to which the two of us belong — claims that the problem is that we often fail to exercise our critical faculties: that is, we’re mentally lazy.
- Our own research shows that social media platforms expose users to a less diverse set of sources than do non-social media sites like Wikipedia.
- We have found that steep competition for users’ limited attention means that some ideas go viral despite their low quality – even when people prefer to share high-quality content.
- In fact, in our research we have found that it is possible to determine the political leanings of a Twitter user by simply looking at the partisan preferences of their friends.
- We are not arguing that findings such as Professor Kahan’s that support the rationalization theory are unreliable.
- Professor Kahan has found similar results in, for example, studies about gun control in which he experimentally manipulated the partisan slant of information that participants were asked to assess.
- Recent research suggests a silver lining to the dispute: Both camps appear to be capturing an aspect of the problem.
- Our analysis of the structure of these partisan communication networks found social networks are particularly efficient at disseminating information – accurate or not – when they are closely tied together and disconnected from other parts of society.
- Our analysis of the data collected by Hoaxy during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections shows that Twitter accounts that shared misinformation were almost completely cut off from the corrections made by the fact-checkers.
- We found evidence of this type of manipulation in the run-up to the 2010 U.S. midterm election.
- Our research suggests that the solution to politically charged misinformation should involve devoting resources to the spread of accurate information and to training or encouraging people to think more critically.
- A great deal of research in cognitive psychology has shown that a little bit of reasoning goes a long way toward forming accurate beliefs.
- We found that people who engaged in more reflective reasoning were better at telling true from false, regardless of whether the headlines aligned with their political views.
- Our results strongly suggest that somehow cultivating or promoting our reasoning abilities should be part of the solution to the kinds of partisan misinformation that circulate on social media.