Do Brands Matter? Understanding Public Trust in Third-Party Factcheckers of Misinformation and Disinformation on Facebook
The spread of misinformation and disinformation is an urgent global problem threatening information quality. Third-party fact checking is widely used to mitigate its harmful effects. Yet, the relationship between fact checking and misinformation spread is understudied. This study addresses this gap and investigates public trust in fact checkers and engagement with debunked claims. Drawing on the theory of motivated reasoning, we use real-life disinformation about former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response to flood victims during the 2022 Australian election. We undertake a survey experiment (N = 8,235) and alter the fact-check source to measure public trust and subsequent engagement with disinformation. Overall, we find high trust in fact checking. However, we also find a third of participants will likely engage with disinformation despite trusting a fact check that explicitly states it is false. Our study lends support to motivated reasoning, finding a disconnect between trust in fact checkers and their capacity to limit disinformation spread.