Is social media affecting the perceived trustworthiness of misinformation? Evidence from experimental comparisons

by Christoph M. Abels,

Social media plays a major role in the dissemination of misinformation. Although social networking sites (SNS) largely differ in their functionality and appearances, and therefore their ability to serve as misinformation vector, researchers have rarely systematically compared different SNS to investigate platform-specific effects beyond Facebook and Twitter. This study tries to address this lack of diversity concerning SNS in the literature by experimentally comparing SNS-specific effects across seven different platforms (Discord, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Telegram, Twitter, WhatsApp) and the Associated Press (AP) website as control condition. The focus is on the perceived trustworthiness of manipulated news, as well as on participants’ willingness to share, interact and distribute this news to friends or family. While platforms’ specific effects do not vary significantly in this experiment, further analysis shows that prior exposure to misinformation affects credibility judgements across all of them and could thereby inform an evidence-based strategy against SNS-powered misinformation.

published in Vol. 21 - No. 1 - Summer 2021

  Site Meter

Indexed in:

  • Social Sciences Citation Index
    (ISI Thomson Reuters)
  • IPSA

Advisory Board

  • Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (chair) Hertie School of Governance
  • Larry Diamond Stanford University
  • Tom Gallagher University of Bradford
  • Alena Ledeneva University College London
  • Michael McFaul Stanford University
  • Dennis Deletant Georgetown University
  • Helen Wallace London School of Economics and Political Science

Editorial Board

  • Claudiu Tufiș
  • Bogdan Iancu
  • George Jiglau
  • Ingi Iusmen
  • Gabriel Bădescu
  • Andrei Macsut
  • Laura Voinea

Published by:

Societatea Academica Romana