[Air-L] quick research question re social media news feeds

Williams, Betsy A - (betsyw) betsyw at email.arizona.edu
Fri Sep 1 15:29:54 PDT 2017

Dear Julie,

I hope others respond with work on how a news feed format specifically changes perceptions of news.

A related literature, mostly from psychology, is reviewed in the following paper:

Paul, C., & Matthews, M. (2016). The Russian "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model: Why It Might Work and Options to Counter It (Perspectives No. PE-198-OSD). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE198.html 

In the most relevant section to your interest, on page 6, they mention that information overload affects how people judge credibility.  They give several examples:
-The "sleeper effect" is where people forget their initial credibility qualms and/or forget the source of particular information, allowing the feelings of truth to remain.  
-Retractions are rarely effective at countering the initial information.
-Knowing that a source might contain misinformation does not give people good ability to judge which information is accurate.

They include these citations for those points:

	Miriam J. Metzger and Andrew J. Flanagin, "Credibility and Trust of Information in Online Environments: The Use of Cognitive Heuristics," Journal of Pragmatics, Vol. 59, Part B, December 2013.

	Pornpitakpan, Chanthika, "The Persuasiveness of Source Credibility: A Critical Review of Five Decades' Evidence," Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 34, No. 2, February 2004, pp. 243-281.

	Henkel, Linda A., and Mark E. Mattson, "Reading Is Believing: The Truth Effect and Source Credibility," Consciousness and Cognition, Vol. 20, No. 4, December 2011, pp. 1705-1721.

	Lewandowsky, Stephan, Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Colleen M. Seifert, Norbert Schwarz, and John Cook, "Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing," Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Vol. 13, No. 3, December 2012, pp. 106-131.

	Ecker, Ullrich K. H., Stephan Lewandowsky, Olivia Fenton, and Kelsey Martin, "Do People Keep Believing Because They Want to? Preexisting Attitudes and Continued Influence of Misinformation," Memory and Cognition, Vol. 42, No. 2, 2014, pp. 292-304.

On page 3, they also discuss social cues that improve credibility, citing the following:

	Pornpitakpan, Chanthika, "The Persuasiveness of Source Credibility: A Critical Review of Five Decades' Evidence," Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 34, No. 2, February 2004, pp. 243-281.

	Hughes, Michael G., Jennifer A. Griffith, Thomas A. Zeni, Matthew L. Arsenault, Olivia D. Copper, Genevieve Johnson, Jay H. Hardy, Shane Connelly, and Michael D. Mumford, "Discrediting in a Message Board Forum: The Effects of Social Support and Attacks on Expertise and Trustworthiness," Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 19, No. 3, April 2014, pp. 325-341.

	Flanagin, Andrew J., and Miriam J. Metzger, "The Role of Site Features, User Attributes, and Information Verification Behaviors on the Perceived Credibility of Web-Based Information," New Media and Society, Vol. 9, No. 2, April 2007, pp. 319-342.

Based on this background, I can only imagine that it is extremely difficult for people to learn only reliable information from a newsfeed.  After all, people are bad at remembering sources for information even when they are not all mixed together, and the branding by the platform and possible recommendations from personal connections are very likely to induce trust in whatever is presented.  I would love to see what experiments or other research has been done specific to news feeds.

Hope this helps.


Betsy Williams, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Center for Digital Society and Data Studies
University of Arizona School of Information

-----Original Message-----
From: Air-L [mailto:air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] On Behalf Of Julie Cohen
Sent: Friday, September 1, 2017 8:27 AM
To: air-l <air-l-aoir.org at listserv.aoir.org>
Subject: [Air-L] quick research question re social media news feeds

Dear all -

I have a vague memory of seeing some work that had been done on whether/how the news feed shapes/flattens communicative and/or epistemological hierarchies. E.g., updates from news sources of record are mixed in with other updates and there is less of the contextual information that would distinguish one set of updates as being more factual, more authoritative, etc.

I can't remember much else about this, but if this rings any bells, I'd very much appreciate a pointer in the right direction. Many thanks.


Julie E. Cohen
Mark Claster Mamolen Professor of Law and Technology Georgetown Law http://www.juliecohen.com/ _______________________________________________
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