ICYMI: Study of Tech “Misinformation” Tool NewsGuard Shows No Impact for Most Users

May 10, 2022

Charlotte Hu | Popular Science

WASHINGTON — After conducting a survey in which half of the participants used the Big Tech censor tool NewsGuard as a guide to avoid “misinformation” and the other half did not, NYU and Princeton University found that NewsGuard’s labels “didn’t alter their online behavior in measurable ways.” The survey revealed that only a small segment of the American public would be influenced by NewsGuard’s rating system, and the impact would be minimal. Last month, the Internet Accountability Project (IAP) signed on to a letter expressing deep concerns over the alliance between NewsGuard and the American Federation of Teachers. IAP highlighted the partisan nature of NewsGuard’s staff and emphasized the damage that could be done to millions of students across the country.

Read key excerpts from the study below:

“This survey was run back in 2020, and the misinformation that participants viewed was mainly about COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. Researchers gave all participants a survey two weeks before they asked the treatment group to install NewsGuard for three to four weeks, and another survey two weeks after that period.

For the majority of users, these [NewsGuard] labels didn’t alter their online behaviors in measurable ways. Overall, the team didn’t observe a significant effect on the average internet user using NewsGuard in terms of their news diet or on any of the ‘indicators’ that misinformation effects, like polarization, political cynicism, trust in media, as well as common misperceptions, Aslett says. ‘The possible reason for that is people just don’t view a lot of low-quality news,’ he says. ‘So, about 65 percent of our sample didn’t view anything unreliable over the course of the treatment period.’

“’One takeaway from this study is that these interventions are advertised to the average internet user, and probably, [to] internet users that view the most reliable news,’ Aslett notes. ‘But it seems to only have a positive effect on those who are consuming the most misinformation that are probably not downloading these web extensions or turning these web extensions on.’

“’Maybe we need to change who we’re targeting these interventions to and try to find a way to advertise this to these groups of individuals who are viewing a lot of misinformation,’ he adds.”

Read the full article HERE.

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