Lying for Viewers: Commingled Partisan Falsehoods Increase Viewing and Sharing of News Media

In stock

Publication History

Received: December 20, 2021
Revised: June 27, 2022; February 3, 2023; April 11, 2023
Accepted: April 19, 2023
Published Online in Issue: June 1, 2024

Downloadable File

Is there an economic incentive for celebrities and well-known media firms to commingle falsehoods into news stories? We conducted five experiments, plus a field validation using secondary data. When presented by celebrities and well-known media firms, a commingled partisan falsehood in an otherwise true news story significantly increased viewing and sharing intentions among politically aligned viewers. The effect was weaker but significant when we replaced the celebrity with an unknown speaker and disappeared when both the celebrity and the well-known firm were replaced by unknowns. This effect was explained by confirmation bias and the viewer’s belief that the falsehood was true. In contrast, a false news story focusing on the same falsehood increased viewing and sharing intentions only when presented by unknowns, with viewers’ belief playing a limited role. The field study found a significantly positive relationship between a commingled partisan falsehood in videos of well-known media firms and actual viewership. We conclude that commingled partisan falsehoods provide a significant viewership increase for celebrities and well-known media firms, creating an economic incentive for lying and posing complex challenges in the fake news era. We discuss the challenges and opportunities in this area for policymakers and media firms.

Additional Details
Author Seyoung Seol, Jorge Mejia, and Alan R. Dennis
Year 2024
Volume 48
Issue 2
Keywords Fake news, fact-checking, reputation, factitious informational blend, news video
Page Numbers 551-582
Copyright © 2023 MISQ. All rights reserved.