Toward a Comprehensive Model of Fake News: A New Approach to Examine the Creation and Sharing of False Information

Author: Weiss, Andrew P.; Alwan, Ahmed; Garcia, Eric P.; Kirakosian, Antranik T.

Description: The authors discuss a new conceptual model to examine the phenomenon of fake news. Their model focuses on the relationship between the creator and the consumer of fake news and proposes a mechanism by which to determine how likely users may be to share fake news with others. In particular, it is hypothesized that information users would likely be influenced by seven factors in choosing to share fake news or to verify information, including the user’s: (1) level of online trust; (2) level of self-disclosure online; (3) amount of social comparison; (4) level of FoMO anxiety; (5) level of social media fatigue; (6) concept of self and role identity; and (7) level of education attainment. The implications reach into many well-established avenues of inquiry in education, Library and Information Science (LIS), sociology, and other disciplines, including communities of practice, information acquiring and sharing, social positioning, social capital theory, self-determination, rational choice (e.g., satisficing and information overload), critical thinking, and information literacy. Understanding the multiple root causes of creating and sharing fake news will help to alleviate its spread. Relying too heavily on but one factor to combat fake news—education level, for example—may have limited impact on mitigating its effects. Establishing thresholds for a certain combination of factors may better predict the tendency of users to share fake news. The authors also speculate on the role information literacy education programs can play in light of a more complex understanding of how fake news operates.

Subject headings: Propaganda; Creation; Sharing; Models; False information; Information literacy; Social media fatigue; Critical thinking; Rational choice theory; Social capital

Publication year: 2021

Journal or book title: Societies

Volume: 11

Issue: 3

Pages: 82

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Serial number: 3728

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