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The effects of disinformation among citizens of in Spain, UK and Germany: digital platforms, topics, consequences and influence of sociodemographic factors

Laura Alonso-Muñoz (Department of Communication Sciences, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain)
Alejandra Tirado García (Department of Communication Sciences, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain)
Andreu Casero-Ripollés (Department of Communication Sciences, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 31 May 2024

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to discover how false information has been received through mobile instant messaging services (MIMS), Facebook and Twitter and what sociodemographic factors have a stronger influence on the perception of the democratic effects generated by the disinformation on the citizens of three countries.

Design/methodology/approach

To do this, an online survey (n = 3,019) was developed for citizens of Spain (n = 1,015), Germany (n = 1,001) and the UK (n = 1,003). The sample is stratified according to the gender, age, income and ideology of the respondents.

Findings

The results show that the reception of false information is high in all three countries, especially on Facebook. Additionally, we found that the country of origin, genre, age and ideology influence the reception of disinformation in MIMS, but not in the rest of the platforms. Considering disinformation's effects on citizens, we observe how, in general terms, those surveyed perceive disinformation effects with a medium-low intensity. In this way, citizens do not believe that false information causes substantial changes in their thinking. An increase in mistrust has been detected toward social media and mainstream media, which are not considered reliable sources of information. At this point, the respondents' country of origin, income and ideology are conditioning factors.

Originality/value

This research provides some relevant trends that help to better understand how disinformation is received on digital platforms in three countries with different political and social traditions, as well as the effects that it has had on citizens and the sociodemographic and political factors that have a greater incidence.

Keywords

Citation

Alonso-Muñoz, L., Tirado García, A. and Casero-Ripollés, A. (2024), "The effects of disinformation among citizens of in Spain, UK and Germany: digital platforms, topics, consequences and influence of sociodemographic factors", Online Information Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-03-2024-0138

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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