Stop and Think! Exploring the Role of News Truth Discernment, Information Literacy, and Impulsivity in the Effect of Critical Thinking Recommendations on Trust in Fake Covid-19 News
Keywords:fake news, trust, news truth discernment, critical thinking recommendations, information literacy
Covid-19-related fake news widely circulates on social media. This is problematic as people commonly do not process information on social media in a very critical manner. Also, when people encounter particular online content several times this tends to increase the content’s trustworthiness, sometimes irrespective of the accuracy of the provided information. Our study aims to explore whether, how, and for whom a simple critical thinking recommendation added to a social media newsfeed can aid people to better discern true news from fake news and reduce their trust in fake news. In an online experiment, 220 participants were exposed to a Twitter newsfeed with true and fake Covid-19-related news messages, either with or without critical thinking recommendations. The findings showed that participants who were exposed to the recommendations showed less trust in fake news messages, which was mediated by an increased accuracy in news truth discernment. Results showed no significant moderating effects of information literacy and impulsivity characteristics. Overall, the findings of this study are promising as this scalable, low-cost intervention might potentially help combat the effects of fake news on social media.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Jasmijn Kruijt, Corine S. Meppelink, Lisa Vandeberg
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