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Misinformation on Misinformation: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges

Abstract : Alarmist narratives about online misinformation continue to gain traction despite evidence that its prevalence and impact are overstated. Drawing on research examining the use of big data in social science and reception studies, we identify six misconceptions about misinformation and highlight the conceptual and methodological challenges they raise. The first set of misconceptions concerns the prevalence and circulation of misinformation. First, scientists focus on social media because it is methodologically convenient, but misinformation is not just a social media problem. Second, the internet is not rife with misinformation or news, but with memes and entertaining content. Third, falsehoods do not spread faster than the truth; how we define (mis)information influences our results and their practical implications. The second set of misconceptions concerns the impact and the reception of misinformation. Fourth, people do not believe everything they see on the internet: sheer volume of engagement should not be conflated with belief. Fifth, people are more likely to be uninformed than misinformed; surveys overestimate misperceptions and say little about the causal influence of misinformation. Sixth, the influence of misinformation on people's behavior is overblown as misinformation often 'preaches to the choir'. To appropriately understand and fight misinformation, future research needs to address these challenges.
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https://hal-sciencespo.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03700770
Contributor : Manon Berriche Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - 2:10:36 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, June 23, 2022 - 3:48:29 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, September 22, 2022 - 7:31:00 PM

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Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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  • HAL Id : hal-03700770, version 1

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Sacha Altay, Manon Berriche, Alberto Acerbi. Misinformation on Misinformation: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges. 2022. ⟨hal-03700770⟩

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