Summary of How Facebook, Fake News and Friends Are Warping Your Memory

Research on collective recall takes on new importance in a post-fact world.

Nature,

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How Facebook, Fake News and Friends Are Warping Your Memory summary
Your friends and acquaintances affect your memories and, by extension, your beliefs about the past and future.

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8 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style

Recommendation

Science journalist Laura Spinney introduces some alarming realities about how friends and acquaintances influence what you remember and forget. Through numerous studies, she shows that whether in pairs, groups of friends, enforced groups such as juries or simply as a society, people introduce bias and change each other’s memories and beliefs. Intentionally or not, the presence of other people changes what individuals think they know, and it’s not always easy to change back. getAbstract recommends Spinney’s analysis to anyone concerned about the proliferation of alternative facts on social media.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How discussion affects remembering and forgetting,
  • How acquaintances help us to remember forgotten facts, and
  • What societies can do to promote facts and prevent misinformation.
 

Summary

When two people discuss a prior event, they remember aspects that either person repeats. They’re also more likely to forget relevant details that they don’t discuss than unrelated information, also known as “retrieval-induced forgetting.” Psychologists Alin Coman and William Hirst found that retrieval-induced forgetting increases when a person listens to a friend rather than a stranger. This has implications for the estimated 62% of Americans who use social media as their source of news.

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About the Author

Laura Spinney is an author and science journalist based in Paris, France.


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