Information sharing and political polarisation on social media: The role of falsehood and partisanship

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3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We explore if misinformation from political elites (i.e., members of the US Congress) and extreme partisan information from media outlets generate greater engagement than accurate information and non-extreme partisan information. We also investigate how exposure to these information types leads to negative emotions (e.g., anger) in individuals and its association with attitude polarisation. To this end, we analysed fact-checked tweets from political elites, tweets from media outlets and replies to those tweets. Together, these tweets received more than 100 000 replies and were shared more than two million times. We also conducted two online experiments. Our field studies reveal that misinformation and extreme partisan information are associated with higher levels of negative emotions and greater engagement than accurate information and non-extreme partisan information. Our data also show that—while negative emotions in response to extreme partisan information are higher among social media users at the ideological extreme than those at the ideological centre—there is no difference in the two groups' level of negative emotions in response to misinformation. The online experiments demonstrate that exposure to misinformation and extreme partisan information elicits stronger negative emotions than exposure to accurate information and non-extreme partisan information. These negative emotions, in turn, contribute to attitude polarisation. Our work makes practical and theoretical contributions concerning social media information sharing, negativity and political polarisation. We also provide future research avenues with associated research questions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Systems Journal
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

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