For instance, it may be more effective (PDF) to “name and shame” dishonest politicians and pundits who promote misinformation. Doing so could increase the reputational costs of false claims and thereby help change future elite behavior. These effects will be compounded if corrections help to create an elite consensus rejecting a particularly notorious false claim, which can shape public opinion and create pressure on individual political figures to not make false statements. Even if corrections are sometimes ineffective at the individual level, fact-checking efforts that change the balance of elite beliefs on an issue can have powerful effects.

Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. He blogs at brendan-nyhan.com and tweets @BrendanNyhan.