Digital Disinformation about COVID-19 and the Third-Person Effect: Examining the Channel Differences and Negative Emotional Outcomes

Piper Liping Liu*, Vincent HUANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Expanding third-person effect (TPE) research to digital disinformation, this article investigates the impact of COVID-19 digital fake news exposure on individuals' perceived susceptibility of influence on themselves, their close others, and their distant others. Findings from a survey of 511 Chinese respondents suggest that, overall, individuals would perceive themselves to be less vulnerable than close others and distant others to the impact of COVID-19 digital disinformation. The highest self-other perceptual discrepancy is found when individuals receive disinformation on mobile social networking apps. Also, individuals who practice more active fact-checking perceive themselves to be less susceptible. The perception of disinformation effects on self as well as the self-other perceptual discrepancy is both positively related to emotional responses (anxiety, fear, and worry) to the COVID-19 pandemic. This study contributes to existing research by linking exposure to disinformation in different digital channels, the TPEs, and emotional outcomes in the context of a public health crisis. It also highlights the importance of educating and enabling fact-checking behaviors on digital media, which could help to reduce negative emotional impact of the disinformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-793
Number of pages5
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume23
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications

User-Defined Keywords

  • digital disinformation
  • fact-checking
  • negative emotions
  • third-person effect

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