Digital Literacy and the Spread of Misinformation in Pakistan
Last registered on May 14, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Digital Literacy and the Spread of Misinformation in Pakistan
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004003
Initial registration date
May 10, 2019
Last updated
May 14, 2019 12:00 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Lahore University of Management Sciences
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Lahore University of Management Sciences
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-05-02
End date
2019-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The increasing availability of low-cost mobile phones and mobile Internet access in emerging markets has led to widespread use of social media platforms, making them an important source of news and place for social and political activity. This trend has brought many new users online including those with limited exposure to technology. Concurrently, we have also observed an increasing trend in the spread of misinformation on such platforms. The spread of misinformation can create and exacerbate polarization, while also affecting the beliefs and actions of users without a prior ideological leaning. We carry out a household level survey which provides unique first-hand evidence on the trends in social media use, sharing of news, and spread of misinformation among low and middle-income users in Pakistan. Using a list of actual news stories circulated on social media we create a test to measure the extent to which users are likely to believe and share misinformation. We evaluate the effectiveness of two interventions for countering misinformation in a randomized control setting. Our first intervention educates users about common features of misinformation through a video, while our second intervention in addition to the video provides specific feedback to users about their own past behaviour in engaging with misinformation. We measure the effectiveness of our interventions on future behaviour of participants in believing and sharing misinformation.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Ali, Ayesha and Ihsan Ayyub Qazi. 2019. "Digital Literacy and the Spread of Misinformation in Pakistan." AEA RCT Registry. May 14. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4003/history/46526
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We evaluate the effectiveness of two interventions for countering misinformation in a randomized control setting.
Intervention Start Date
2019-05-02
Intervention End Date
2019-05-27
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcomes of interest for this project is the ability to correctly identify a news item as false or true at endline after receiving the intervention (relative to the control group).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The primary outcome takes the value 1 if the user correctly identifies fake and placebo news items as false, and true news as items as true, and 0 otherwise.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Additionally, we will also examine the effect of the intervention on how respondents engage with the news items. Our intervention is designed to educate users about common features of fake news and therefore, we can study whether users in the treatment group are more careful in checking extreme emotions, verifying news, and sharing it on social media when exposed to fake news.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Extreme emotion: Constructed as a likert scale.
Verifying News: A binary. 1 if they want to check the news online 0 if they do not want to check it.
Sharing: A binary, 1 if they do not want to share a fake news item, 0 if they want to share a fake news item.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The study conducts an individual level baseline study, administers the intervention alongside the baseline survey and then conducts an endline survey three days after the first visit was conducted.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Households are divided in grids, which are from high population density constituencies. These grids are then randomly selected on a computer to be part of the study.
Randomization Unit
Randomization unit is a grid, a grid is a 100 x 100 meters of an area in Lahore. A grid usually has five households.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
750 users drawn from 750 distinct households
Sample size: planned number of observations
750
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
250 users in control
250 users for Treatment 1
250 users for Treatment 2
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Institutional Review Board: Lahore University of Management Sciences
IRB Approval Date
2019-03-25
IRB Approval Number
LUMS-IRB/03252019
Analysis Plan

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