You Are Fake News! Factors Impacting Journalists’ Debunking Behaviors on Social Media

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Abstract

Nowadays, misinformation and hoaxes travel faster than they did in the past, mostly thanks to the emergence of digital platforms and the popularization of social networking sites. Scholars have found that journalists have turned social media platforms into essential components of their professional operations. However, the extent to which journalists engage in debunking misinformation on social media is still unclear. By conducting a U.S. Nationally representative survey with more than 400 journalists, this study delves into journalists’ perceptions of false information, social media use, and debunking actions to expose misleading content in online contexts. Our findings indicate low levels of debunking, although we found factors associated with journalists either confronting or reporting misinformation. On the one hand, journalists who use social media platforms to develop their brands and engage directly with their audiences are more likely to publicly confront misinformation. On the other hand, journalists who believe social media companies should be held accountable for the spread of fake news do not engage directly in confronting false information, but do report it when they encounter it. Taken together, our findings suggest the journalist-audience relationship plays a central role to understand debunking behaviors in online spaces.

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APA

Saldaña, M., & Vu, H. T. (2021). You Are Fake News! Factors Impacting Journalists’ Debunking Behaviors on Social Media. Digital Journalism. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2021.2004554

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