Social media users more likely to believe false information, McGill study suggests
A new study out of Montreal points to a link between misinformation and social media when it comes to perceptions and behaviours surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
More specifically, researchers looked at the prevalence of misinformation on social media compared to traditional Canadian news media and how exposure to false information influenced behaviour.
The study, conducted by seven researchers at McGill University, suggests that the dissemination of false information is in fact more widespread on social media than traditional news media.
Aengus Bridgman, a PhD Candidate at McGill University and the study’s co-author, said there are various explanations as to why that happens.
“Historically, organizations, large-scale news organizations felt a deep sense of sort of civic responsibility that they were trying to inform the public good,” he said.
While noting that it may not always be successful, Bridgman said that it led to the development of certain standards in the industry such as having two sources on the record or not sharing information that was suspected of being misleading.
Social media platforms, Bridgman said, “do not feel that same sense of responsibility,” although he admitted to recent efforts in that direction.
Additionally, the study found that people who primarily get their information from social media are more likely to believe false information and act accordingly, as opposed to those who consume more traditional media.