Fake thumbs in play: A large-scale exploration of false amplification and false diminution in online news comment spaces

K. Hazel Kwon, Mi Hyun Lee, Sang Pil Han, Sungho Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study explores how disinformation can dampen general users’ expressions of opinion online. In the context of a proven disinformation case in South Korea, this study analyzes externally validated click-logs of 1389 fake accounts and more than a million logs of 45,769 general users in a highly popular web portal. Findings show that the inflated visibility of anti-governmental opinions in the manipulated comment space was incongruent with the overall political tone that general users had spontaneously encountered from the broader media ecosystem beyond the manipulated space. Subsequently, this opinion “climate” incongruence decreased the likelihood of commenting in the manipulated space. The study concludes that false amplification (of the opinions that the manipulators promote) and false diminution (of general users’ political expressions) work in tandem to create a distorted opinion environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNew Media and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Click fraud
  • Spiral of Silence
  • computational propaganda
  • disinformation
  • fake engagement
  • false amplification
  • influence operation
  • opinion manipulation
  • political astroturfing
  • political bots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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