The Puzzle of Misinformation: Exposure to Unreliable Content is Higher among the Better Informed

29 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2022

See all articles by Alvin Zhou

Alvin Zhou

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Tian Yang

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication

Sandra González-Bailón

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication

Date Written: September 30, 2022

Abstract

Most research on misinformation has focused on its prevalence and individual correlates of engagement. However, we know less about broader patterns of news-seeking behavior and whether people exposed consume unreliable content at the expense of reliable sources. This question is important because the effects of misinformation are likely to differ if unreliable content is the main source of news rather than part of a diverse news diet. We address this question using an observational panel tracking the browsing behavior of N ~ 140,000 individuals in the US for a period of twelve months (January to December of 2018). We show that about 1% of all panelists (N ~ 1,400) visit at least 100 unreliable news pages during our observation period. We also show that panelists exposed to misinformation consume more reliable news and have news diets with higher ideological diversity. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings.

Keywords: information disorders; media environment; news ecosystems; news exposure; web data.

Suggested Citation

Zhou, Alvin and Yang, Tian and González-Bailón, Sandra, The Puzzle of Misinformation: Exposure to Unreliable Content is Higher among the Better Informed (September 30, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4234566 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4234566

Alvin Zhou

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication ( email )

MN
United States

Tian Yang

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

Sandra González-Bailón (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://dimenet.asc.upenn.edu/people/sgonzalezbailon/

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
47
Abstract Views
201
PlumX Metrics