Artificial intelligence is ineffective and potentially harmful for fact checking

by   Matthew R. DeVerna, et al.

Fact checking can be an effective strategy against misinformation, but its implementation at scale is impeded by the overwhelming volume of information online. Recent artificial intelligence (AI) language models have shown impressive ability in fact-checking tasks, but how humans interact with fact-checking information provided by these models is unclear. Here we investigate the impact of fact checks generated by a popular AI model on belief in, and sharing intent of, political news in a preregistered randomized control experiment. Although the AI performs reasonably well in debunking false headlines, we find that it does not significantly affect participants' ability to discern headline accuracy or share accurate news. However, the AI fact-checker is harmful in specific cases: it decreases beliefs in true headlines that it mislabels as false and increases beliefs for false headlines that it is unsure about. On the positive side, the AI increases sharing intents for correctly labeled true headlines. When participants are given the option to view AI fact checks and choose to do so, they are significantly more likely to share both true and false news but only more likely to believe false news. Our findings highlight an important source of potential harm stemming from AI applications and underscore the critical need for policies to prevent or mitigate such unintended consequences.


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