ARTICLE: How do people authenticate social media info?

Picture: Monotone photo by Warren Wong, license CC0 1.0

Numerous stories that have gone viral in social media have been turned out to be fake news. It can be difficult to distinguish between trustworthy news and falsified content. Edson C. Tandoc, Richard Ling, Andrew Duffy, Debbie Goh and Lim Zheng Wei of Nanyang Technological University, and Oscar Westlund of Gothenburg University (authors not in orginal order), studied how individuals authenticate information in social media. The authors analysed survey responses from 2501 Singaporeans.

The article proposes a conceptual framework to understand how individuals authenticate information.

Based on the authors’ findings, individuals first rely on their own judgment of the source and the message. When referring to their own judgment, individuals rely on three main ‘authentication framings’: 1) the self, 2) the source, and 3) the message.

If this does not provide a definitive answer, they turn to external resources to authenticate news items. They can intentionally seek information from their social sphere or other institutional sources. Verification can also be incidental. People may come across information related to verification just by interacting with friends or consuming other media.

The authors propose that future studies could look at which strategies are more frequently used, and how individuals should authenticate news.

The article “Audiences’ acts of authentication in the age of fake news” was published in New Media & Society and is available online (free abstract).

Picture: Monotone photo by Warren Wong, license CC0 1.0

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