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Title: Misinformation on Misinformation: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges
Authors: Altay, S
Berriche, M
Acerbi, A
Keywords: misinformation;misperceptions;social media;conspiracy theories;big data;audience research
Issue Date: 28-Jan-2023
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Citation: Altay, S., Berriche, M. and Acerbi, A. (2023) 'Misinformation on Misinformation: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges', Social Media and Society, 9 (1), pp. 1 - 13. doi: 10.1177/2056305122115.
Abstract: Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Alarmist narratives about online misinformation continue to gain traction despite evidence that its prevalence and impact are overstated. Drawing on research examining the use of big data in social science and reception studies, we identify six misconceptions about misinformation and highlight the conceptual and methodological challenges they raise. The first set of misconceptions concerns the prevalence and circulation of misinformation. First, scientists focus on social media because it is methodologically convenient, but misinformation is not just a social media problem. Second, the internet is not rife with misinformation or news, but with memes and entertaining content. Third, falsehoods do not spread faster than the truth; how we define (mis)information influences our results and their practical implications. The second set of misconceptions concerns the impact and the reception of misinformation. Fourth, people do not believe everything they see on the internet: the sheer volume of engagement should not be conflated with belief. Fifth, people are more likely to be uninformed than misinformed; surveys overestimate misperceptions and say little about the causal influence of misinformation. Sixth, the influence of misinformation on people’s behavior is overblown as misinformation often “preaches to the choir.” To appropriately understand and fight misinformation, future research needs to address these challenges.
ISSN: 2056-3051
Other Identifiers: ORCID iDs: Manon Berriche; Alberto Acerbi
Appears in Collections:Dept of Life Sciences Research Papers

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