In this study, researchers wanted to test the hypothesis that the threat of fact-checking deters politicians from making false claims. To do that, they sent mailers to a random selection of state legislators in nine states — all with PolitiFact affiliates — in the run-up to the 2012 election in the United States outlining how their reputations would be affected by fact checks of their inaccurate statements. Researchers found that, in the group that received the letters, lawmakers were much less likely to receive a false rating from PolitiFact. They also found no evidence that those observations were due to less coverage or politicians speaking less than before.
This study was conducted ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Respondents were asked whether they were aware of experts' conclusions on four political misconceptions, whether they believed them and which online news outlets they consumed. Frequent conservative online news consumers had a 33 percent chance of being wrong about President Obama's birth certificate despite knowing what most journalists had concluded about it. Only 3 percent of those not reading conservative news held that same belief. Conversely, a frequent liberal online news user had a 10 percent chance of being wrong about Mitt Romney outsourcing jobs during his tenure at Bain even though they correctly indicated what fact-checkers findings were. Researchers concluded that there may be a relationship between partisan media use and political misconceptions.
This study examined how effective online debunking is by employing a quantitative analysis of 54 million U.S. Facebook users over a five year period. Researchers compared how users interacted with proven and unsubstantiated Facebook posts and found consumers of conspiracy theories and fact-based reporting mostly engaged in separate echo chambers. The study found that debunking posts were largely ineffective due to the fact that consumers of conspiracy theories didn't frequently interact with them, and when they did, they reacted negatively.