New research by Northeastern University’s Myo Chung, Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism, was recently published in Human Communication Research, one of the top journals in the field of Communications. The study, entitled When I Learn the News is False: How Fact-Checking Information Stems the Spread of Fake News Via Third-Person Perception, is about the role that fact-checking information plays in stopping the spread of fake news on social media.
The research, co-authored by Nuri Kim, centers on two experiments that uncovered a theoretical mechanism underlying the effect of fact-checking on sharing intentions. These experiments also identified an important contextual cue – social media metrics (i.e., the number of likes or shares) – that interacts with fact-checking effects.
The study indicates that exposure to fake news with fact-checking information (vs. fake news without fact-checking information) yielded more negative evaluations of the news and a greater belief that others are more influenced by the news than oneself, a phenomenon known as third-person perception (TPP). Increased TPP, in turn, led to weaker intentions to share fake news on social media.
Fact-checking information also invalidated the effect of social media metrics on sharing intentions. The experiments showed that without fact-checking information, higher (vs. lower) social media metrics induced greater intentions to share the news. However, when fact-checking debunked the news, such an effect disappeared. View more about the research here.
This research is cutting-edge. Fact-checking has received much attention as a potential tool to combat fake news, but whether and how fact-checking information lessens intentions to share fake news on social media remains underexplored.
These themes explored in When I Learn the News is False: How Fact-Checking Information Stems the Spread of Fake News Via Third-Person Perception represent Myo Chung’s expertise and research areas. Professor Chung’s research and teaching focuses on how the emergence of new media has changed journalism and strategic communication. She is particularly interested in how online participatory behaviors such as commenting, liking, and sharing affect audiences’ processing of news or other mediated messages, and how to make messages more persuasive and effective in the digital era. Her research also explores how non-profit organizations, particularly advocacy groups, can strategically use media to amplify voice, mobilize support for social changes, and engage target audiences in a call-to-action. Congratulations to Professor Chung on being published in Human Communication Research.