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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access September 3, 2019

Looks Real, or Really Fake? Warnings, Visual Attention and Detection of False News Articles

  • Bartosz W. Wojdynski EMAIL logo , Matthew T. Binford and Brittany N. Jefferson
From the journal Open Information Science


In recent years, online misinformation designed to resemble news by adopting news design conventions has proven to be a powerful vehicle for deception and persuasion. In a 2 (prior warning: present/absent) x 2 (article type: false/true) eye-tracking experiment, news consumers (N=49) viewed four science news articles from unfamiliar sources, then rated each article for credibility before being asked to classify each as true news or as false information presented as news. Results show that reminding participants about the existence of fake news significantly improved correct classification of false news articles, but did not lead to a significant increase in misclassification of true news articles as false. Analysis of eye-tracking data showed that duration of visual attention to news identifier elements, such as the headline, byline, timestamp on a page, predicted correct article classification. Implications for consumer education and information design are discussed.

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Received: 2018-09-15
Accepted: 2019-06-03
Published Online: 2019-09-03

© 2019 Bartosz W. Wojdynski et al., published by De Gruyter Open

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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