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Real or Fake? User Behavior and Attitudes Related to Determining the Veracity of Social Media Posts

by   Linda Plotnick, et al.

Citizens and Emergency Managers need to be able to distinguish "fake" (untrue) news posts from real news posts on social media during disasters. This paper is based on an online survey conducted in 2018 that produced 341 responses from invitations distributed via email and through Facebook. It explores to what extent and how citizens generally assess whether postings are "true" or "fake," and describes indicators of the trustworthiness of content that users would like. The mean response on a semantic differential scale measuring how frequently users attempt to verify the news trustworthiness (a scale from 1-never to 5-always) was 3.37. The most frequent message characteristics citizens' use are grammar and the trustworthiness of the sender. Most respondents would find an indicator of trustworthiness helpful, with the most popular choice being a colored graphic. Limitations and implications for assessments of trustworthiness during disasters are discussed.


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