How Bad is Fake News? Motivations for Sharing Misinformation Online
Visiting Speaker
Past Event
Miriam J. Metzger
Professor, Department of Communication, UCSB
Nov 5, 2019
Watch video
1:00 pm
177 Huntington Ave
11th floor

A common assumption is that fake news is dangerous because people believe the false information in such stories. This is presumed to have a deleterious ripple effect, whereby fake news spread through trusted others via social media will be similarly trusted. Hence, the presumed danger of fake news is, first, that people will believe false information because they think it is credible and, second, that they will propagate the influence of misinformation further into society. Yet, research suggests there may be multiple motivations for sharing information with one’s social network, such as for entertainment purposes, sarcastic reasons, or to illustrate a point counter to that promoted in a news story. Under such circumstances, the alleged danger of fake news may be less than feared or, perhaps, even completely mitigated or reversed. Dr. Metzger will present her current research that seeks to examine these issues by analyzing people’s motivations for sharing fake news stories on social media and how such information is perceived by recipients. This research can help to answer the question: How bad is fake news for democracy?

About the speaker
Professor Metzger’s research lies at the intersection of media, information technology, and trust, centering on how information and communication technologies (ICTs) alter people’s understanding of credibility and privacy. Her work examines questions about how ICTs challenge traditional notions of trust, with a focus on the credibility of information online and on how users of digital media negotiate privacy and disclosure decisions in light of these challenges. She examines these questions using a variety of social science methods. Dr. Metzger has published widely in the field of Communication and beyond. Her work appears in flagship disciplinary journals such as Human Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, New Media & Society, Media Psychology), in journalism (e.g., Digital Journalism, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media,) in information science (the Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology), in education (e.g., Computers & Education), and in interdisciplinary journals (e.g., Computers in Human Behavior, Science). In addition, Dr. Metzger has edited two books on information literacy published by MIT Press titled Digital Media, Youth, and Credibility and Kids & Credibility: An Empirical Examination. Her work has been supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the U.S. Department or State, and the National Science Foundation, as well as other agencies. In addition to her faculty appointment in Communication, Dr. Metzger serves as a faculty affiliate and is the Director of Education at the interdisciplinary Center for Information, Technology and Society at UCSB.