A new overview of several studies reveals to what extent belief in fake news is fueled by search engines such as Google and Co. The backgrounds.
Digitalization makes it possible to send and receive information at almost any time and in almost any place. In addition to many positive effects, this also accelerated the spread of false news (so-called “fake news”).
We are now confronted with incorrect information every day on various news portals and social media. It is therefore advisable to research important information yourself.
But recently one revealed in the magazine Nature Published overview of the impact search engines have on the perception of false information. The key finding: Conducting an online search of the Internet to verify the veracity of false news articles increases the likelihood that these articles will be viewed as true.
Fake news cannot always be debunked by search engines
But how can that be? Although search engines play a central role in the digital information landscape, little is known about how Internet searching to evaluate news influences belief in misinformation. Ultimately, search engines act as modern gatekeepers by sorting the content on the Internet and making it easily accessible to users.
The now published overview presents results from experimental studies on the topic. They show that searching online to verify the accuracy of false or misleading articles is often counterproductive. Because the belief that these stories are true increases with additional search queries. This contradicts the general assumption that search engines help debunk misinformation.
Correct news is perceived as true by search engines
One possible explanation is exposure to unreliable information. Search engines may return incorrect content that supports the false claims. Nevertheless, there is also a positive effect. Because the effect is reversed with real news. The information in it is recognized as secure after internet research.
Nevertheless, the findings remain worrying. Finally, they suggest that search engines are ineffective at combating misinformation. On the contrary: they can even increase belief in such information. In the long term, significantly greater efforts will be required to remove untrue content from search engines.