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Relationship between misinformation spreading behaviour and true/false judgments and literacy: an empirical analysis of COVID-19 vaccine and political misinformation in Japan

Shinichi Yamaguchi (Center for Global Communications, International University of Japan, Tokyo, Japan)
Tsukasa Tanihara (Department of International Communication, Kanda University of International Studies, Chiba, Japan)

Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication

ISSN: 2514-9342

Article publication date: 28 February 2023

167

Abstract

Purpose

In recent years, the social impact of misinformation has intensified. The purpose of this study is to clarify the mechanism by which misinformation spreads in society.

Design/methodology/approach

Testing the following two hypotheses by a logit model analysis of survey data using actual fact-checked COVID-19 vaccine and political misinformation: people who believe that some misinformation is true are more likely to spread it than those who do not believe in its truthfulness; people with lower media and information literacy are more likely to spread misinformation than people with higher media and information literacy.

Findings

The two hypotheses are supported, and the trend was generally robust regardless of the method, whether the means of diffusion was social media or direct conversation.

Social implications

The authors derived the following four implications from the results: governments need to further promote media information literacy education; platform service providers should consider mechanisms to facilitate the spread and display of posts by people who are aware of misinformation; fact-checking should be further promoted; people should acquire information based on the assumption that people who believe in some misinformation tend to spread it more.

Originality/value

First, it quantitatively clarifies the relationship between misinformation, true/false judgements and dissemination behaviour. Second, it quantitatively clarifies the relationship between literacy and misinformation dissemination behaviour. Third, it conducts a comprehensive analysis of diffusion behaviours, including those outside of social media.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors extend the gratitude to Professor Tomoaki Watanabe and Research Assistant Hidetaka Oshima, of the International University of Japan Center for Global Communications, for their invaluable cooperation. This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP21K12586 and Google Japan. The authors are very grateful for this support.

Citation

Yamaguchi, S. and Tanihara, T. (2023), "Relationship between misinformation spreading behaviour and true/false judgments and literacy: an empirical analysis of COVID-19 vaccine and political misinformation in Japan", Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/GKMC-12-2022-0287

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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