Dr. Kevin Leicht is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Leicht recently had a new paper published in The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences titled "The Presentation of Self in Virtual Life: Disinformation Warnings and the Spread of Misinformation Regarding COVID-19". To read the full paper, click here.
Abstract: In our analysis, we examine whether the labeling of social media posts as misinformation affects the subsequent sharing of them by social media users. Conventional understandings of the presentation of self and work in cognitive psychology provide different understandings of whether labeling misinformation in social media posts will reduce sharing behavior. Part of the problem with understanding whether interventions will work hinges on how closely social media interactions mirror other interpersonal interactions with friends and associates in the offline world. Our analysis looks at rates of misinformation labeling during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic on Facebook and Twitter, and then assesses whether sharing behavior is deterred by misinformation labels applied to social media posts. Our results suggest that labeling is relatively successful at lowering sharing behavior. We discuss how our results contribute to a larger understanding of the role of existing inequalities and government responses to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.