Social media is fertile ground with news blooming every other minute. Facebook and Twitter are the two most used social media platforms which deliver authentica as well as fake news. The new study finds that people who lack trust in mainstream news sources often share these fake news online.
The complete details of this study are published in the journal Human Communication Research.
Toby Hopp from the University of Colorado is the lead author of this study. He says that this study has found some special types of people who are more likely to share stories that are fake, misleading, and hypertensive on their social media accounts.
He also says that identifying these particular users will probably help to understand why people share fake news stories online.
This research is published in a time when the whole world is going through a pandemic. The stories on ‘where did this virus come from’, ‘who has made this virus’, ‘when would you get a coronavirus vaccine’ is common. In addition to this, assumptions on upcoming US presidential elections, Trump’s controversial statements, and changes in world politics in terms of international borders and transportation are immensely popular.
From the last month, Google, as well as Facebook and Twitter is all set to filter and delete the fake news especially related to coronavirus pandemic. Twitter in particular has launched new labels on Trump’s statements for being inaccurate or misleading. On this, President Trump has accused Twitter of threatening the speech.
Nearly 10 years ago, the conventional news sources tried to take a responsible act for filtering the inaccurate or false news apart. But the conventional sources are now replaced with a digital, more active platform with ease of finding everything online. However, it has also increased the chance of being caught between fake news stories,
A previous study on sharing fake news on social media revealed that Republicans are responsible for sharing these fake news on social media. But it may not be true for people outside the US, so Hopp tried to study this behavior on a higher level, without political stamping.
He says that he was trying to find more factors that may make a person share false news online. To study this behavior, Hopp and his team hired 783 adult people who were active on Twitter and Facebook. With their consent, they were monitored for what are they sharing online from August 1, 2015, to June 6, 2017. This includes the time before and after the presidential elections of 2016 in the US.
In addition to this, these participants were a part of a detailed survey to understand their political standing and interest in mainstream media. Then they analyzed these websites from which these participants shared content online and 106 of them were fake reporting sites.
Hopp says that although these sites are fake the information that they are posting is not completely wrong. Hence he called these sites as ‘counter media’ and not fake websites.
The outcomes of this study told that nearly 71% of Facebook users and more than 95% of Twitter users do not share fake stories. However, much of the fake content shared online is through Facebook. And mostly there are only a few individuals responsible for sharing it.
The study concludes as people with lacking trust in mainstream media sources are more likely to share fake information online. However this information may not be 100% fake, some part of it is true or misleading.