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Article
Publication date: 12 May 2022

Jiyoung Lee, Brian C. Britt and Shaheen Kanthawala

Misinformation (i.e. information identified as false) spreads widely and quickly on social media – a space where crowds of ordinary citizens can become leading voices  

Abstract

Purpose

Misinformation (i.e. information identified as false) spreads widely and quickly on social media – a space where crowds of ordinary citizens can become leading voices – during a crisis when information is in short supply. Using the theoretical lenses of socially curated flow and networked gatekeeping frameworks, we address the following three aims: First, we identify emergent opinion leaders in misinformation-related conversations on social media. Second, we explore distinct groups that contribute to online discourses about misinformation. Lastly, we investigate the actual dominance of misinformation within disparate groups in the early phases of mass shooting crises.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper used network and cluster analyses of Twitter data that focused on the four most prevalent misinformation themes surrounding the El Paso mass shooting.

Findings

A total of seven clusters of users emerged, which were classified into five categories: (1) boundary-spanning hubs, (2) broadly popular individuals, (3) reputation-building hubs, (4) locally popular individuals and (5) non-opinion leaders. Additionally, a content analysis of 128 tweets in six clusters, excluding the cluster of non-opinion leaders, further demonstrated that the opinion leaders heavily focused on reiterating and propagating misinformation (102 out of 128 tweets) and collectively made zero corrective tweets.

Originality/value

These findings expand the intellectual understanding of how various types of opinion leaders can shape the flow of (mis)information in a crisis. Importantly, this study provides new insights into the role of trans-boundary opinion leaders in creating an echo chamber of misinformation by serving as bridges between otherwise fragmented discourses.

Details

Internet Research, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1066-2243

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 4 November 2021

Christopher Cyr

This chapter examines the impact of information digitization on the rise of misinformation, and the broader implications that this has for democracy. It is based on the…

Abstract

This chapter examines the impact of information digitization on the rise of misinformation, and the broader implications that this has for democracy. It is based on the Researching Students Information Choices (RSIC) project, which looks at how students evaluate scientific information on the internet.1 Part of this study looked at container collapse.

In previous decades, information was contained in a physical book, newspaper, journal, magazine, or the like. These containers offered important contextual information about the origin and validity of the information. With information digitized, this context is lost. This can facilitate misinformation, as people might make incorrect judgments about information credibility because of the lack of context.

It is vital that citizens have the information literacy skills to initially evaluate information correctly. One possibility for misinformation being pervasive is that, once encoded, it becomes resistant to correction. This underscores the importance of teaching students to evaluate the credibility of information prior to the point of encoding.

To combat misinformation, librarians can teach students to evaluate containers and the indicators of credibility that they provide. Information containers can be evaluated prior to consuming information within a resource, while fact-checking only can happen after. Because of this, container evaluation can help prevent misinformation from being encoded. Our research demonstrates that this requires thoughtful engagement with the information resources and critical evaluation of the sources that produced them, and that students cannot accurately identify containers when they rely on heuristics like the URL and Google snippet.

Details

Libraries and the Global Retreat of Democracy: Confronting Polarization, Misinformation, and Suppression
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-597-2

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 February 2022

Shandell Houlden, George Veletsianos, Jaigris Hodson, Darren Reid and Christiani P. Thompson

Because health misinformation pertaining to COVID-19 is a serious threat to public health, the purpose of this study is to develop a framework to guide an online…

Abstract

Purpose

Because health misinformation pertaining to COVID-19 is a serious threat to public health, the purpose of this study is to develop a framework to guide an online intervention into some of the drivers of health misinformation online. This framework can be iterated upon through the use of design-based research to continue to develop further interventions as needed.

Design/methodology/approach

Using design-based research methods, in this paper, the authors develop a theoretical framework for addressing COVID-19 misinformation. Using a heuristic analysis of research on vaccine misinformation and hesitancy, the authors propose a framework for education interventions that use the narrative effect of transportation as a means to increase knowledge of the drivers of misinformation online.

Findings

This heuristic analysis determined that a key element of narrative transportation includes orientation towards particular audiences. Research indicates that mothers are the most significant household decision-makers with respect to vaccines and family health in general; the authors suggest narrative interventions should be tailored specifically to meet their interests and tastes, and that this may be different for mothers of different backgrounds and cultural communities.

Originality/value

While there is a significant body of literature on vaccine hesitancy and vaccine misinformation, more research is needed that helps people understand the ways in which misinformation works upon social media users. The framework developed in this research guided the development of an education intervention meant to facilitate this understanding.

Details

Health Education, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

Keywords

Abstract

Details

The Emerald Handbook of Computer-Mediated Communication and Social Media
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80071-598-1

Article
Publication date: 10 January 2022

Xizhu Xiao and Yan Su

News consumption is critical in creating informed citizenry; however, in the current context of media convergence, news consumption becomes more complex as social media…

Abstract

Purpose

News consumption is critical in creating informed citizenry; however, in the current context of media convergence, news consumption becomes more complex as social media becomes a primary news source rather than news media. The current study seeks to answer three questions: why the shifted pattern of news seeking only happens to some but not all of the news consumers; whether the differentiated patterns of news seeking (news media vs social media) would result in different misinformation engagement behaviors; and whether misperceptions would moderate the relationship between news consumption and misinformation engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey consisted of questions related to personality traits, news seeking, misperceptions and misinformation engagement was distributed to 551 individuals. Multiple standard regression and PROCESS Macro model 1 were used to examine the intricate relationships between personality, news use and misinformation engagement.

Findings

Results indicate that extroversion was positively associated with social media news consumption while openness was inversely related to it. Social media news consumption in turn positively predicted greater misinformation sharing and commenting. No association was found between Big Five personality traits and news media news seeking. News media news seeking predicted higher intention to reply to misinformation. Both relationships were further moderated by misperceptions that individuals with greater misperceptions were more likely to engage with misinformation.

Originality/value

The current study integrates personality traits, news consumption and misperceptions in understanding misinformation engagement behaviors. Findings suggest that news consumption via news media in the digital era merits in-depth examinations as it may associate with more complex background factors and also incur misinformation engagement. Social media news consumption deserves continuous scholarly attention. Specifically, extra attention should be devoted to extrovert and pragmatic individuals in future research and interventions. People with these characteristics are more prone to consume news on social media and at greater risk of falling prey to misinformation and becoming a driving force for misinformation distribution.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR-10-2021-0520

Details

Online Information Review, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1468-4527

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 January 2022

Liang Chen and Lunrui Fu

Drawing on the third-person effect (TPE) theory and the theory of planned behavior (TPB) as a theoretical framework, the current study aims to explore the cognitive…

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on the third-person effect (TPE) theory and the theory of planned behavior (TPB) as a theoretical framework, the current study aims to explore the cognitive mechanisms behind how third-person perception (TPP) of misinformation about public health emergencies affects intention to engage in corrective actions via attitude, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 1,063 participants in China were recruited via a professional survey company (Sojump) to complete an online national survey during the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in China. Structural equation modeling using Mplus 7.0 was used to address the research hypotheses.

Findings

The results reveal that attention to online information about public health emergencies significantly predicted TPP. In addition, TPP positively influenced attitude and perceived behavioral control, which, in turn, positively encouraged individuals to take corrective actions to debunk online misinformation. However, TPP did not significantly influence subjective norms. A potential explanation is provided in the discussion section.

Research limitations/implications

The research extends the TPE theory by providing empirical evidence for corrective actions and uncovers the underlying cognitive mechanism behind the TPE by exploring key variables of the TPB as mediating constructs. These are all significant theoretical contributions to the TPE and offer practical contributions to combating online misinformation.

Originality/value

The research extends the TPE theory by providing empirical evidence for a novel behavioral outcome (i.e. corrective actions in response to misinformation) and uncovers the cognitive mechanism underlying the TPE by exploring key variables of the TPB as mediating constructs. These are all significant theoretical contributions to the TPE and offer practical contributions to combating online misinformation.

Details

Internet Research, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1066-2243

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 August 2021

Jiyoung Lee, Shaheen Kanthawala, Brian C. Britt, Danielle F. Deavours and Tanya Ott-Fulmore

The goal of this study is to examine how tweets containing distinct emotions (i.e., emotional tweets) and different information types (i.e., misinformation, corrective…

Abstract

Purpose

The goal of this study is to examine how tweets containing distinct emotions (i.e., emotional tweets) and different information types (i.e., misinformation, corrective information, and others) are prevalent during the initial phase of mass shootings and furthermore, how users engage in those tweets.

Design/methodology/approach

The researchers manually coded 1,478 tweets posted between August 3–11, 2019, in the immediate aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. This manual coding approach systematically examined the distinct emotions and information types of each tweet.

Findings

The authors found that, on Twitter, misinformation was more prevalent than correction during crises and a large portion of misinformation had negative emotions (i.e., anger, sadness, and anxiety), while correction featured anger. Notably, sadness-exhibiting tweets were more likely to be retweeted and liked by users, but tweets containing other emotions (i.e., anger, anxiety, and joy) were less likely to be retweeted and liked.

Research limitations/implications

Only a portion of the larger conversation was manually coded. However, the current study provides an overall picture of how tweets are circulated during crises in terms of misinformation and correction, and moreover, how emotions and information types alike influence engagement behaviors.

Originality/value

The pervasive anger-laden tweets about mass shooting incidents might contribute to hostile narratives and eventually reignite political polarization. The notable presence of anger in correction tweets further suggests that those who are trying to provide correction to misinformation also rely on emotion. Moreover, our study suggests that displays of sadness could function in a way that leads individuals to rely on false claims as a coping strategy to counteract uncertainty.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR-03-2021-0121/

Details

Online Information Review, vol. 46 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1468-4527

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 August 2021

Shuai Zhang, Feicheng Ma, Yunmei Liu and Wenjing Pian

The purpose of this paper is to explore the features of health misinformation on social media sites (SMSs). The primary goal of the study is to investigate the salient…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the features of health misinformation on social media sites (SMSs). The primary goal of the study is to investigate the salient features of health misinformation and to develop a tool of features to help users and social media companies identify health misinformation.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical data include 1,168 pieces of health information that were collected from WeChat, a dominant SMS in China, and the obtained data were analyzed through a process of open coding, axial coding and selective coding. Then chi-square test and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were adopted to identify salient features of health misinformation.

Findings

The findings show that the features of health misinformation on SMSs involve surface features, semantic features and source features, and there are significant differences in the features of health misinformation between different topics. In addition, the list of features was developed to identify health misinformation on SMSs.

Practical implications

This study raises awareness of the key features of health misinformation on SMSs. It develops a list of features to help users distinguish health misinformation as well as help social media companies filter health misinformation.

Originality/value

Theoretically, this study contributes to the academic discourse on health misinformation on SMSs by exploring the features of health misinformation. Methodologically, the paper serves to enrich the literature around health misinformation and SMSs that have hitherto mostly drawn data from health websites.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 24 October 2021

Md. Rifat Mahmud, Raiyan Bin Reza and S.M. Zabed Ahmed

The main purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among the general population in Bangladesh and the role of misinformation in this process.

Abstract

Purpose

The main purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among the general population in Bangladesh and the role of misinformation in this process.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey was conducted to assess COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among ordinary citizens. In addition to demographic and vaccine-related information, a five-point Likert scale was used to measure vaccine-related misinformation beliefs and how to counter them. Chi-square tests were used to examine the relationship between demographic variables and vaccine acceptance. A binary logistic regression analysis was conducted to identify vaccine hesitancy by different demographic groups. Nonparametric Mann–Whitney and Kruskal–Wallis tests were performed to determine the significance of difference between demographic groups in terms of their vaccine-related misinformation beliefs. Finally, the total misinformation score was computed to examine the correlation between vaccine hesitancy and the total score.

Findings

This study found that nearly half of the respondents were willing to receive COVID-19 vaccine, whereas more than one third of the participants were unsure about taking the vaccine. Demographic variables (e.g., gender, age and education) were found to be significantly related to COVID-19 vaccine acceptance. The results of binary logistic regression analysis showed that respondents who were below 40 years of age, females and those who had lower education attainments had significantly higher odds of vaccine hesitancy. There were significant differences in participants’ vaccine-related misinformation beliefs based on their demographic characteristics, particularly in the case of educational accomplishments. A highly significant negative correlation was found between total misinformation score and vaccine acceptance.

Research limitations/implications

The survey was conducted online, and therefore, it automatically precluded non-internet users from completing the survey. Further, the number of participants from villages was relatively low. Overall, the results may not be representative of the entire population in Bangladesh.

Practical implications

The findings of this paper could guide government agencies and policymakers in devising appropriate strategies to counter COVID-related misinformation to reduce the level of vaccine hesitancy in Bangladesh.

Originality/value

To the authors’ best knowledge, this study is the first to measure the level of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and the influence of misinformation in this process among the general public in Bangladesh.

Details

Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2514-9342

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 December 2020

Yang Cheng and Yunjuan Luo

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…

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

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