Why do people share political information and misinformation online? Developing a bottom-up descriptive framework

Article


Perach, R., Joyner, L., Husbands, D. and Buchanan, T. 2023. Why do people share political information and misinformation online? Developing a bottom-up descriptive framework. Social Media + Society. 9 (3), pp. 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1177/20563051231192032
TypeArticle
TitleWhy do people share political information and misinformation online? Developing a bottom-up descriptive framework
AuthorsPerach, R., Joyner, L., Husbands, D. and Buchanan, T.
Abstract

Social media users are key actors in the spreading of misleading or incorrect information. To develop an integrative parsimonious summary of social media users’ own accounts of motives for sharing political information, we conducted: 1. a literature review of motives for personally sharing false information as reported by social media users; and 2. qualitative research concerning these motives using an innovative, ecologically valid method. Based on our findings, we developed a pool of items evaluating social media users’ motives for sharing false political information, which we then tested and analysed the dimensionality of in 3. a preregistered questionnaire-based study in order to identify key clusters of users’ own accounts of motives for sharing both true and false political information. The current findings show that there are distinct sets of motives people report for their misinformation sharing behaviour: prosocial activism, attack or manipulation of others, entertainment, awareness, political self-expression, and fighting false information. Also, these sets of motives are associated with variables known to predict sharing misinformation, and some of these sets predict social media users’ self-reports of having shared misinformation in the past. Our findings highlight and elaborate on users’ motives that reflect a concern with 'making things better' and acting in a manner that is beneficial to society as a whole, and suggest that different interventions may be required to combat misinformation sharing driven by different motives. A potential set of 18 items that could be used in questionnaires measuring motivations for sharing political news online is described.

Keywordsmisinformation; social media; motives ; mixed-methods; political; review
Sustainable Development Goals16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
LanguageEnglish
PublisherSAGE Publications
JournalSocial Media + Society
ISSN
Electronic2056-3051
Publication dates
Online18 Aug 2023
PrintJul 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted13 Jul 2023
Deposited11 Jun 2024
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Copyright Statement

© The Author(s) 2023
Creative Commons CC BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage)

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/20563051231192032
Web of Science identifierWOS:001050627200001
Related Output
Is supplemented byhttps://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/20563051231192032#supplementary-materials
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