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The presumed influence of digital misinformation: examining US public’s support for governmental restrictions versus corrective action in the COVID-19 pandemic

Yang Cheng (North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA)
Yunjuan Luo (School of Journalism and Communication, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 2 December 2020

Issue publication date: 24 August 2021

1289

Abstract

Purpose

Informed by the third-person effects (TPE) theory, this study aims to analyze restrictive versus corrective actions in response to the perceived TPE of misinformation on social media in the USA.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted an online survey among 1,793 adults in the USA in early April. All participants were randomly enrolled in this research through a professional survey company. The structural equation modeling via Amos 20 was adopted for hypothesis testing.

Findings

Results indicated that individuals also perceived that others were more influenced by misinformation about COVID-19 than they were. Further, such a perceptual gap was associated with public support for governmental restrictions and corrective action. Negative affections toward health misinformation directly affected public support for governmental restrictions rather than corrective action. Support for governmental restrictions could further facilitate corrective action.

Originality/value

This study examined the applicability of TPE theory in the context of digital health misinformation during a unique global crisis. It explored the significant role of negative affections in influencing restrictive and corrective actions. Practically, this study offered implications for information and communication educators and practitioners.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR-08-2020-0386

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This research is supported by the 2018 Guangzhou Philosophy and Social Sciences Development Program during the 13th Five-Year Plan Period (Grant No. N5180160).

Citation

Cheng, Y. and Luo, Y. (2021), "The presumed influence of digital misinformation: examining US public’s support for governmental restrictions versus corrective action in the COVID-19 pandemic", Online Information Review, Vol. 45 No. 4, pp. 834-852. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-08-2020-0386

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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