It is not difficult to verify whether new information is correct; However, most people don’t take this step until they share it on social media, regardless of age, social class or gender, according to a new study from Ohio University.
A new study led by Professor M. Laeeq Khan of Ohio University has found that several factors can be used to predict a person’s ability to detect misinformation, also known as ‘fake news’ , on social networks. Additionally, the study found that by looking at certain factors, it is also possible to predict whether someone is likely to share misinformation based on the same factors.
The study, entitled “Recognizing disinformation and checking before sharing: a perspective of reasoned action and information literacy”, was published in the journal Behavior and Information Technology.
“This is a pioneering study that helps to understand why individuals would share misinformation on social media using a theoretical lens and information literacy factors,” Khan said.
The idea for this study came from a larger research project in which Khan investigated the spread of disinformation on social media during the last U.S. election.
In this study, Khan wanted to examine disinformation as a whole.
“Fake news and disinformation could rightly be called major problems of our time. Almost all other research in this area fails to highlight the vital role of individuals in stopping the spread of disinformation. “Khan said.
To test the research hypotheses that predict the sharing of disinformation, Khan decided to expand his work from a US setting to collect data in Indonesia. Indonesia is not only one of the biggest social media markets in the world, the country has made headlines for its fight against disinformation and hoaxes, especially during its election season.
The study asked participants to rate their perceived internet skills, self-esteem and internet experiences, as well as their attitudes towards checking online information, belief in reliability, and how often to check online. where participants shared information without fact-checking.
There were 396 participants in the study, who found that age, social class and gender did not play a huge role, but rather that media and information literacy was the main factor in recognizing disinformation.
“The important role of information literacy is often taken for granted. It has been found that information checking skills such as simply Google searching for new information and not sharing it right away could prove beneficial. to stop the spread of disinformation, ”Khan said. “In addition, the attitude of verifying the information was very important.”
Those who strongly believe in the reliability of information are more likely to share information online without verification.
“Online users should exercise healthy skepticism when information comes to them. Such an attitude of checking information by individuals can prove to be a major counterweight to growing disinformation online,” said Khan.
While many respondents said they believe it is important to share verified information, some lack the media or informational knowledge to accurately assess whether the information they are sharing is in fact correct.
The study found that people with lower education levels, lower incomes, and new Internet users would benefit the most from learning more information literacy.
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Material provided by Ohio University. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.