MIMS Final Project 2020

Affordances of Credibility on Social Media

In recent years, popular social networks have become breeding grounds for misinformation. Networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have affordances that easily enable sharing information at an unprecedented rate. Articles and posts which misinform users about crucial things such as political candidates, global warming, etc. are circulated heavily on these platforms.

There are several challenges in preventing the spread of misinformation on these platforms.

Firstly, the scale of content generation on these social networks presents a huge technical challenge. Common practices such as fact-checking have had limited success because they are not scalable. Blanket bans are also not a solution since unbridled free speech is a fundamental tenet of democracy.

We propose that understanding markers of credibility will allow platforms to counter fake news at scale. By isolating key influential affordances that lead people to trust something online, we empower platforms with a mechanism to fight the spread of misinformation, or inversely, boost real information by using product design as an intervention to highlight/manipulate markers of credibility.


“Manipulating affordances of credibility on a platform can influence whether or not a consumer believes a news article/post shared on said platform". Our research focused on running a randomized controlled trial to validate this hypothesis.

In order to understand this better, we divided our work into 2 key stages

  • understanding which affordances are of interest to the average news consumer through extensive user research
  • manipulation of key affordances in social media through mock Facebook posts to isolate the effect of affordances on credibility of news stories

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Last updated:

May 18, 2020