Check the Report and Comments: The Veracity Assessment of Unfamiliar News on Social Media

Huai Kuan Zeng, Tai Yee Wu*, David J. Atkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Given growing concerns regarding the spread of medical misinformation, the current research set out to assess the message effects of social media news on reader veracity assessments. A 2 (news report with hedging vs. without hedging) by 3 (uncivil vs. civil vs. no comments) between-subject experiment on Facebook users was conducted (valid N = 824). Results reveal that news hedging was more predictive of perceived credibility, news sharing, and fact-checking tendencies than was comment incivility. Hedged reporting was also found to elevate perceived news credibility, which in turn predicted a greater likelihood of news sharing. Moreover, perceived credibility increased fact-checking tendency only when the news was reported with hedged messages. These findings indicate that when readers encounter an unfamiliar health news issue, the content of news played a more important role in veracity assessment than the style of reader comments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Journalism
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • comment incivility
  • fact-checking
  • medical misinformation
  • News hedging
  • news sharing
  • perceived credibility

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