Professional fact-checking of individual news headlines is an effective way to fight misinformation, but it is not easily scalable, because it cannot keep pace with the massive speed at which news content gets posted on social media. Here we provide evidence for the effectiveness of ratings of news sources, instead of individual news articles. In a large pre-registered experiment with quota-sampled Americans, we find that participants are less likely to share false headlines (and more discerning of true versus false headlines) when 1-to-5 star trustworthiness ratings were applied to news headlines. This is true both when the ratings are generated by fact-checkers and by laypeople (although the effect is stronger using fact-checker ratings). We also observe a positive spillover effect: sharing discernment also increases for headlines whose source was not rated, likely because the presence of ratings on some headlines prompts users to reflect on source quality more generally. This study suggests that displaying information regarding the trustworthiness of news sources provides a scalable approach for reducing the spread of low-quality information.
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