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Seeing Is Believing: Fake News May Lead To False Memories, Voter Study Finds

• by John Anderer

Misinformation and fabricated stories, especially those posted on social media, played a troublingly large role in the 2016 election, and unfortunately there is every indication that this trend is going to continue heading into another big election year in 2020. But, just how persuasive is fabricated news? According to a joint study conducted by both American and Irish researchers, fake news almost certainly influences voters, and can even cause many to form false memories based on fabricated news reports they've seen.

After analyzing voters in the week leading up to the 2018 Irish referendum on abortion, researchers say that individuals are more likely to form false memories based off of a fake news report if it aligns with their political beliefs. Furthermore, the more a topic elicits an emotional response, the more likely a person is to form false memories that support their preconceived notions. With this in mind, the study's authors say they expect fake and fabricated news to have a similar effect on U.S. voters in 2020.

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