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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access May 22, 2022

Credibility in the time of COVID-19: Cues that audiences look for when assessing information on social media and building confidence in identifying ‘fake news’ about the virus

  • Amber Hinsley EMAIL logo , Ilwoo Ju , Taehwan Park and Jennifer Ohs
From the journal Open Information Science


Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has included parsing an overwhelming amount of information—much of it online. Many Americans have seen information on social media that they find confusing (Mitchell, Oliphant & Shearer, 2020) and recent research has found that social media use may contribute to greater likelihoods of believing misinformation about the virus and sharing ‘fake news’ about it (Su, 2021; Pennycook et al., 2020). Using a survey of U.S. adults, this research determined which social media platforms Americans rely on most when they search for information about COVID-19: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The present study also identified the credibility cues that people look to as they are trying to ascertain the veracity of COVID-19 information they come across on social media and that are predictors of helping them feel more confident in their own ability to identify credible information. Those significant cues—believability, authenticity, trustworthiness, reliability and objectivity—confirm previous research by Appelman and Sundar (2016) and Tandoc et al. (2018b). Educators, public health officials, and journalists are among the professionals who can use these findings to create more effective messages designed to assist people in making better health decisions.


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Received: 2021-02-26
Accepted: 2022-04-05
Published Online: 2022-05-22

© 2022 Amber Hinsley et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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