Although social media has become a primary news platform, the effects of social media features on users’ information processing remains under-explored. This study explores how social media design features affect use of sources. A 2 × 2 between-subjects experiment examined effects of “information context collapse” (ICC)—where different content types are presented in the same form and location—and volume of content (VoC). These features were hypothesized to predict inattentive (System 1) processing, which predicts “source blindness”—where users fail to process source cues during news use. A mock social media site was created with participants queried about posts shown on the site. Results find that while VoC has no effect, ICC significantly predicts source blindness mediated by System 1 processing. This suggests collapsed information environments lead to inattentive processing of source information, increasing potential negative outcomes of social media news use. Implications of these findings are discussed.
Pearson, G. (2021). Sources on social media: Information context collapse and volume of content as predictors of source blindness. New Media and Society, 23(5), 1181–1199. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444820910505