Seeing Is Believing? How Including a Video in Fake News Influences Users’ Reporting of the Fake News to Social Media Platforms

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Publication History

Received: June 13, 2019
Revised: August 11, 2020; April 26, 2021; September 2, 2021
Accepted: September 14, 2021
Published Online as Articles in Advance: August 26, 2022
Published in Issue: September 1, 2022

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Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, are combating the spread of fake news by developing systems that allow their users to report fake news. However, it remains unclear whether these reporting systems that harness the “wisdom of the crowd” are effective. Notably, concerns have been raised that the popularity of videos may hamper users’ reporting of fake news. The persuasive power of videos may render fake news more deceiving and less likely to be reported in practice. However, this is neither theoretically nor empirically straightforward, as videos not only affect users’ ability to detect fake news, but also impact their willingness to report and their engagement (viz., likes, shares, and comments) which would further spread the fake news. Using a unique dataset from a leading social media platform, we empirically examine how including a video in a fake news post affects the number of users reporting the post to the platform. Our results indicate that including a video significantly increases the number of users reporting the fake news post to the social media platform. Additionally, we find that sentiment intensity, especially when the sentiment is positive, of the fake news text content attenuates the effect of including a video. Randomized experiments and a set of mediation analyses are included to uncover the underlying mechanisms. We contribute to the information systems literature by examining how social media platforms can leverage their users to report fake news, and how different formats (e.g., videos and text) of fake news interact to influence users’ reporting behavior. Social media platforms that seek to leverage the “wisdom of the crowd” to combat the proliferation of fake news should consider both the popularity of videos and the role of text sentiment in fake news to adjust their strategies.

Additional Details
Author Shuting (Ada) Wang, Min-Seok Pang, and Paul A. Pavlou
Year 2022
Volume 46
Issue 3
Keywords Fake news, users’ reporting of fake news, video, text sentiment, social media
Page Numbers 1323-1354
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