News Release

Timing of fact-checks

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Fact-checks that appear after reading headlines are more effective at debunking misinformation than those appearing before or while reading headlines, a study suggests. Detailed corrections increase the chances of removing a reader's misperceptions, but social media platforms often employ short tags. Nadia M. Brashier and colleagues studied how the timing of tags may affect the long-term effects of such brief fact-checks. The authors conducted two studies with 2,683 participants who read 36 headlines gathered from social media. True or false labels were shown immediately before, during, or after reading the headlines. One week later, participants were asked to rate the accuracy of the same headlines with no tags present. Tags shown after initial reading of the headline produced a 25.3% reduction in subsequent misclassification, when compared to headlines with no tag. The authors suggest that providing fact-checks at this particular time-point may have functioned as feedback, making the fact-checks more memorable. Tags shown during reading of the headline reduced misclassification by only 8.6%, and tags shown before the headline had mixed results. According to the authors, the results reveal the potential value of debunking misinformation immediately after exposure, with implications for social media platform design.

Article #20-20043: "Timing matters when correcting fake news," by Nadia M. Brashier, Gordon Pennycook, Adam J. Berinsky, and David G. Rand.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nadia M Brashier, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; email:


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.