Abstract

Purpose This study focused on the impact of misinformation on social networking sites. Through theorizing and integrating literature from interdisciplinary fields such as information behavior, communication and relationship management, this study explored how misinformation on Facebook influences users' trust, distrust and intensity of Facebook use. Design/methodology/approach This study employed quantitative survey research and collected panel data via an online professional survey platform. A total of 661 participants in the USA completed this study, and structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to test the theoretical model using Amos 20. Findings Based on data from an online questionnaire (N = 661) in the USA, results showed that information trustworthiness and elaboration, users' self-efficacy of detecting misinformation and prescriptive expectancy of the social media platform significantly predicted both trust and distrust toward Facebook, which in turn jointly influenced users' intensity of using this information system. Originality/value This study contributes to the growing body of literature on information and relationship management and digital communication from several important aspects. First, this study disclosed the underlying cognitive psychological and social processing of online misinformation and addressed the strategies for future system design and behavioral intervention of misinformation. Second, this study systematically examined both trust and distrust as cognitive and affective dimensions of the human mindsets, encompassed the different components of the online information behavior and enriched one's understanding of how misinformation affected publics' perceptions of the information system where it appeared. Last but not least, this study advanced the relationship management literature and demonstrated that a trustful attitude exerted a stronger influence on the intensity of Facebook use than distrust did. Peer review The peer review history for this article is available at:


Authors

Cheng, Yang;  Chen, Zifei Fay

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  • pre-publication peer review (FINAL ROUND)
    Decision Letter
    2020/11/15

    15-Nov-2020

    Dear Cheng, Yang; Chen, Zifei Fay

    It is a pleasure to accept your manuscript OIR-04-2020-0130.R1, entitled "Encountering Misinformation Online: Antecedents of Trust and Distrust and Their Impact on the Intensity of Facebook Use" in its current form for publication in Online Information Review. Please note, no further changes can be made to your manuscript.

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    Author Response
    2020/10/26

    Ref: OIR-04-2020-0130_R1
    Title: Encountering Misinformation Online: Antecedents of Trust and Distrust and Their Impact on the Intensity of Facebook Use
    Journal: Online Information Review

    Dear Editors,

    Thanks for reaching the “minor revision” decision with this manuscript. Following the valuable suggestions from the anonymous reviewer, we now have revised the paper “Encountering Misinformation Online: Antecedents of Trust and Distrust and Their Impact on the Intensity of Facebook Use” and would like to resubmit it to the Online Information Review.

    In the revised manuscript, first, we appreciate the positive comments from the reviewer: “Yes, results have been presented clearly and analysed appropriately.” “The discussion on implications is adequate.” “Very good clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.” As noted, this revised manuscript contributes to the growing body of literature on information and relationship management, and digital communication from several important aspects. It disclosed the underlying cognitive psychological and social processing of online misinformation and addressed the strategies for future system design and behavioral intervention of misinformation. It also systematically examined both trust and distrust as cognitive and affective dimensions of the human mindsets, encompassed the different components of the online information behavior, and enriched our understanding of how misinformation affected publics’ perceptions of the information system where it appeared. Furthermore, this article advanced the relationship management literature and demonstrated that a trustful attitude exerted a stronger influence on the intensity of Facebook use than distrust did.

    Second, we have followed your directions to rework this literature and redefine the definition of specific concepts to ensure that it reflects the scope of this paper. We also discussed the definitions and key characteristics of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ as well as the major differences between these two concepts. In addition, we explained why only misinformation was investigated. We also further elaborated the results. Meanwhile, we ensured that our manuscript stays within the 10,000-word limit.
    Last but not least, we have carefully edited and revised the whole manuscript, including the title, abstract, introduction, literature review, method, findings, discussion, and limitation sections. We have carefully proofread the whole manuscript as well.

    Below are the point-by-point responses to the comments. The changes in the manuscript are highlighted in yellow.

    Best regards,
    Author(s)


    Responses to Reviewer #1:

    Recommendation: Minor Revision
    Comments:

    1. Literature Review: There is a need to discuss the definitions and key characteristics of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ as well as the major differences between these two concepts. In addition, explain why only misinformation was investigated as usually it is difficult to draw a sharp line between misinformation and disinformation.

    Reply: Thank you for pointing this out. We agree it is important to have a clearer discussion on the definitions, key characteristics, and major differences between the term “misinformation” and “disinformation.” Following your suggestion, we have added section “2.2 Misinformation and Disinformation” in our literature review to delimit the scope of our study context. In this section, we wrote (pp. 4-5):

    “The terms ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ bear important conceptual differences and should be clarified in our research context. In general, both ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ refer to information being untrue (Shin et al., 2018). However, the intention and motivation of untrue information are different. Misinformation refers to false information where the motivation of spreading such information is unknown and oftentimes without the intention to mislead (Lewandowsky et al., 2012). Disinformation, on the other hand, refers to the intentional transmission of false, inaccurate, or misleading information with the intention to cause public harm or gain an advantage (High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Disinformation, 2018). Freelon and Wells (2020) pointed out that deception, potential for harm, and intent to harm being the three critical criteria for disinformation, thereby distinguishing it from the concept of misinformation, where motivation is oftentimes unintentional or unknown (Lewandowsky et al., 2012). Given the distinction between these two concepts, we delimit the scope of our study to misinformation.”

    1. Pilot study: Provide information about the number of pilot study participants, how they were selected, and what was the outcome of the pilot study?

    Reply: Thanks for this question. Before the final study, we conducted a pilot study and enrolled 237 panel participants via Qualtrics’ generated anonymous links to examine the validity and reliability of our measurement tool. After removing incomplete data, we got a total of 128 valid answers. Cronbach’s analysis suggested that all items are reliable in this model (alpha > .65). We also checked participants’ feedback for this study and corrected some typos and grammar mistakes. Thus, based on the quantitative data and participants’ qualitative feedback, we revised and finalized the questionnaire and began the second round of data collection. We have inserted more information about the pilot test on page 11, “We enrolled 237 panel participants and achieved a total of 128 valid answers. Based on the quantitative data and participants’ qualitative feedback, we revised and finalized the survey and began the second round of data collection…”

    1. Section 3.1: More information about the Facebook post is desirable for those readers who are not fully familiar with this incidence. Moreover, indicate if this post was from Coca Cola or from someone else? Apparently, it looks like a case of disinformation or fake news and not of a misinformation, which is basically dissemination of unintentional wrong information.

    Reply: Yes, this is important—thank you very much for pointing this out. To address this important point, we have detailed the information given to the participants on page 12, see “At the outset of the survey, all participants were shown a shared Facebook post from a common consumer, who stated that Coca-Cola was recalling their Dasani water from all over the country since it contained clear parasites. The post also stated that there was a website for emergency recalls for any bad food or products.”

    Furthermore, we have removed any unclear description of the post and added the following description (p. 12) based on our added discussion of misinformation and disinformation. It states, “The post did not show whether the common consumer sharing the information was doing so intentionally, thereby delimiting the context to the scope of misinformation, rather than disinformation.”

    1. Attention-check questions: Provide the number of individuals who wrongly answered the attention-check questions and removed from the data analysis.

    Reply: Thanks for this valuable suggestion. We have provided the number of individuals who did not pass the attention check questions in this revision (see page 11).

    1. Explain the reasons for collecting information about participants’ academic qualifications and income levels and how this information was utilized.

    Reply: We really thank you for your suggestion. Following survey research conducted in previous literature (e.g., Agag and El-Masry, 2016; Cheng et al., 2018; Lee, Lee & Tan, 2015), we collected participants’ education and income levels as the basic demographic information. We utilized this type of information as the description of participants’ characteristics in the method part.

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: Several previous studies have also investigated some areas covered in this study. However, this study has focused more on the concept of 'misinformation' - although I have some reservations about using this term (please see my comments to authors).

    Reply: Really appreciate your suggestion. As you can see, we have carefully taken care of this concern, re-identified, and clarified the definition of misinformation in the current manuscript.

    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: There is a need to discuss the definitions and key characteristics of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ as well as the major differences between these two concepts. In addition, explain why only misinformation was investigated as usually it is difficult to draw a sharp line between misinformation and disinformation.

    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: Please see my comments to authors Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: Yes, results have been presented clearly and analysed appropriately.

    Reply: We appreciate your detailed comments on the method and results part. In this current revision, we have addressed your comments on the pilot test, Facebook post, attention check and demographic information. We have also added a section “2.2 Misinformation and Disinformation” in our literature review. In this section, we discussed the definitions and key characteristics of “misinformation” and “disinformation,” as well as their major differences (see pp. 4-5) to delimit the scope of our study. In our method section, we added “The post did not show whether the common consumer sharing the information was doing so intentionally, thereby delimiting the context to the scope of misinformation, rather than disinformation” (p.12). We thank you for pointing out the importance of making this distinction and clarification and hope our revised sections on misinformation and disinformation are now satisfactory.

    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: There is need to further elaborate the discussion on the results.

    Reply: Thanks for your valuable comments. We have further elaborated the results. See discussions on pages 14-18, “…Results showed that self-efficacy was positively associated with trust, which suggested that the more confident that social media users believed they could recognize misinformation by themselves, the more likely they would trust the information system itself. Such results supported findings from previous studies (e.g., Alves and Mainardes, 2017; Wu et al., 2012). It is possible that when social media users have a higher level of self-efficacy in identifying misinformation, they also become more experienced and comfortable with information shared on social media, and consequently tend to believe in what the social media platform can deliver…Results of this study filled the gap by exploring how the intensity of social media usage can be increased via effectively enhancing trust and preventing distrust toward the online platform. Data further demonstrated that trust had a stronger impact on increasing the intensity of use than distrust on decreasing Facebook intensity. In an online post-truth context, people strongly valued trusted media for communication, and such findings further enriched the theoretical framework by confirming trust as an important mediator in the formation of users’ social media intensity.”

    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: The discussion on implications is adequate. Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: Very good.
    Reproducible Research: If appropriate, is sufficient information, potentially including data and software, provided to reproduce the results and are the corresponding datasets formally cited?: Please see my comments to authors.

    Reply: Again, we appreciate your valuable and meaningful comments, which help us significantly in this revision. We have carefully corrected each part of this manuscript based on your thoughtful advice. If you have any further questions, please kindly let us know. We hope that you stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Looking forward to your positive feedback.



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  • pre-publication peer review (ROUND 1)
    Decision Letter
    2020/10/21

    21-Oct-2020

    Dear Dr. Cheng,

    Manuscript ID OIR-04-2020-0130 entitled "Encountering Misinformation Online: Antecedents of Trust and Distrust and Their Impact on the Intensity of Facebook Use" which you submitted to Online Information Review, has been reviewed. The comments of the reviewer(s) are included at the bottom of this letter.

    The reviewer(s) have recommended publication, but also suggest some minor revisions to your manuscript. Therefore, I invite you to respond to the reviewer(s)' comments and revise your manuscript. Please also ensure that in doing so your paper does not exceed the maximum word length of 10000 words and that it meets all the requirements of the author guidelines at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/author_guidelines.htm?id=oir&PHPSESSID;=ubl727mru90lg3hc8sa5p5qrt2."

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    Yours sincerely,

    Dr. Eugenia Siapera
    eugenia.siapera@ucd.ie

    Reviewer(s)' Comments to Author:
    Reviewer: 1

    Recommendation: Minor Revision

    Comments:
    1. Literature Review: There is a need to discuss the definitions and key characteristics of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ as well as the major differences between these two concepts. In addition, explain why only misinformation was investigated as usually it is difficult to draw a sharp line between misinformation and disinformation.
    2. Pilot study: Provide information about the number of pilot study participants, how they were selected, and what was the outcome of the pilot study?
    3. Section 3.1: More information about the Facebook post is desirable for those readers who are not fully familiar with this incidence. Moreover, indicate if this post was from Coca Cola or from someone else? Apparently, it looks like a case of disinformation or fake news and not of a misinformation, which is basically dissemination of unintentional wrong information.
    4. Attention-check questions: Provide the number of individuals who wrongly answered the attention-check questions and removed from the data analysis.
    5. Explain the reasons for collecting information about participants’ academic qualifications and income levels and how this information was utilized.

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: Several previous studies have also investigated some areas covered in this study. However, this study has focused more on the concept of 'misinformation' - although I have some reservations about using this term (please see my comments to authors).

    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: There is a need to discuss the definitions and key characteristics of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ as well as the major differences between these two concepts. In addition, explain why only misinformation was investigated as usually it is difficult to draw a sharp line between misinformation and disinformation.

    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: Please see my comments to authors

    Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: Yes, results have been presented clearly and analysed appropriately.

    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: There is need to further elaborate the discussion on the results.

    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: The discussion on implications is adequate.

    Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: Very good.

    Reproducible Research: If appropriate, is sufficient information, potentially including data and software, provided to reproduce the results and are the corresponding datasets formally cited?: Please see my comments to authors.

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    Reviewer report
    2020/05/15

    1. Literature Review: There is a need to discuss the definitions and key characteristics of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ as well as the major differences between these two concepts. In addition, explain why only misinformation was investigated as usually it is difficult to draw a sharp line between misinformation and disinformation.
    2. Pilot study: Provide information about the number of pilot study participants, how they were selected, and what was the outcome of the pilot study?
    3. Section 3.1: More information about the Facebook post is desirable for those readers who are not fully familiar with this incidence. Moreover, indicate if this post was from Coca Cola or from someone else? Apparently, it looks like a case of disinformation or fake news and not of a misinformation, which is basically dissemination of unintentional wrong information.
    4. Attention-check questions: Provide the number of individuals who wrongly answered the attention-check questions and removed from the data analysis.
    5. Explain the reasons for collecting information about participants’ academic qualifications and income levels and how this information was utilized.

    Reviewed by
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