“Seeing is believing!” Confirmation bias and engagement with fake news on Facebook
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Recent events around the world such as the US presidential election or the Brexit referendum have highlighted that the sharing of fake new stories on social media has become an important issue. There is little research into fake news and in particular the influence of confirmation bias on individuals’ decisions to engage with fake news stories online. Drawing on moral foundations theory this survey-based study (n=172) explored the influence of confirmation bias on engagement with fake news stories on Facebook. The results provide several interesting insights: engagement should not be taken by default as an endorsement of a story; many who do not engage still believe fake news with the implications on their future beliefs and behaviours as yet unknown; and the influence of confirmation bias in the spreading of fake news may be overestimated. This research also revealed that participants may be less guarded in their reactions to fake news stories that are non-political in nature which may have implications for the focus of interventions by Facebook and others who wish to control misinformation.
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