Members of the Romanian team involved in the Youcheck! project have recently published an academic article in the European Journal of Communication , showing evidence of third person effect regarding people’s ability to detect fake news. The third person effect refers to the general attitude of people related to believing others to be much more vulnerable to negative media influence than they are. The study is very relevant in the context of the Youcheck! project, as researchers argue that, as long as people believe they are better equipped than others to detect fake news, they will not use fact-checking programs or sites to debunk online disinformation.
The article makes a case about important predictors of third person effects, such as education, income, interest in politics, or social media dependency. The data is interpreted in the large context of the continuing fighting to address disinformation at the level of the European Union, especially since one of the mechanisms suggested by the High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation – of which two members, Divina Frau-Meigs and Alina Bărgăoanu, are involved in the Youcheck! project – to fight disinformation is through fact-checkers. In the authors of the article words, “fact-checking agencies might not be the right answer to this kind of problem, especially due to people’s internal mechanisms of assessing both detection and effects of fake news on themselves and on others.”
In this context, the media literacy interventions implemented in four countries within the framework of Youcheck! are raising awareness about young generations’ (lack of) abilities to question and detect fake news. Additionally, by constantly providing feedback with regards to the InVID-WeVerify tool of disinformation debunking, the project is dedicated to providing a more user-friendly and useful tool, open to larger audiences.