The sharing of disinformation in cross-national comparison: analyzing patterns of resilience

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Abstract

Although the problem of disinformation is on the rise across the globe, previous research has found that countries differ in the extent of widespread disinformation. In this study, we examine the willingness to disseminate disinformation across six countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.). We use a model by Humprecht et al. (2020) to study to what degree various systemic-structural factors influence individual behavior and contribute to resilience to disinformation. We draw on uniformly collected primary survey data and use regression analyses to examine which factors may explain citizens’ decisions to not further propagate disinformation. The results of our cross-national study show that resilience factors are country-specific and are highly dependent on the respective political and information environments. While in some countries extreme ideology weakens resilience, in others low education can have such an effect. Cross-national resilience factors include heavy social media use, the use of alternative media, and populist party support. We discuss what kind of tailored measures in combating online disinformation are needed to improve social resilience across different countries.

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Humprecht, E., Esser, F., Aelst, P. V., Staender, A., & Morosoli, S. (2021). The sharing of disinformation in cross-national comparison: analyzing patterns of resilience. Information Communication and Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.2006744

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