Misinformation Sharing on Twitter during Zika: An Investigation of the Effect of Threat and Distance

Rohit Valecha, Tejaswi Volety, K. Hazel Kwon, H. Raghav Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recently, health-related misinformation has plagued social media. We investigate the behavior of misinformation sharing on Twitter. We argue that misinformation sharing is likely to be influenced by the distance to the health crisis as afforded by Twitter. This paper investigates three types of distances, namely social (personal relations), spatial (geometric) and temporal (time gap). We address three research questions in the context of Zika virus: a) How does social, spatial and temporal distance affect the threat appeal of a misinformation message? b) How does social, spatial and temporal distance influence misinformation sharing? c) How does the effect of social, spatial and temporal distance on misinformation sharing vary based on the influence afforded by Twitter? The results indicate the negative effect of social and temporal distance on threat appeal, and the negative effect of spatial distance on misinformation sharing. The results also indicate the negative effect of temporal distance on misinformation sharing for more influential Tweeters and the negative effect of social and spatial distance on misinformation sharing for less influential Tweeters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIEEE Internet Computing
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Blogs
  • Human factors
  • Internet
  • Misinformation Sharing
  • Public healthcare
  • Social Distance
  • Social factors
  • Social networking (online)
  • Spatial Distance
  • Temporal Distance
  • Threat
  • Twitter
  • Viruses (medical)
  • Zika

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications

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