“WHY WOULD SOMEONE INTENTIONALLY LIE?”: ASSESSING THE CREDIBILITY OF CANCER (MIS)INFORMATION ON FACEBOOK

  • Yonaira M Rivera Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Katherine C Smith Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Meghan B Moran Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Keywords: Facebook, Health misinformation, Credibility, Cancer, Latinos

Abstract

As misinformation on social media continues to proliferate, scholars are increasingly calling for explorations of the negative ramifications of health-related misinformation on health outcomes. In 2018, 96% of the top 100 shared health articles were shared on Facebook; 51% of these had neutral to poor credibility. This exploratory study seeks to understand how U.S. Latinos assess the credibility of the cancer screening and prevention information (CPSI) they engage with on Facebook. Through semi-structured in-depth interviews, participants (n=20) accessed their Facebook account alongside the researcher, typed “cancer” in the search bar, and discussed cancer-related posts they engaged with during the past 6-12 months. If a participant engaged with CPSI, the researcher asked questions regarding if and how participants assessed the credibility of the information. Computer screen and audio were recorded for analysis. Interviews are being analyzed thematically, and CPSI via content analysis. Preliminary findings suggest most CPSI engagement comes from Facebook Friends and Groups that at times share unreliable information (e.g. foods claiming cancer prevention/curative properties). Participants with higher education levels were more likely to verify information via outside sources, while others looked for cues within the post to assess credibility (i.e. being shared by a reputable news agency). However, most individuals rely on heuristics (post virality, cultural associations, testimonies) to assess information credibility, rather than a verification process. These findings can assist in developing social media campaigns to counteract health misinformation. Findings also raise broader questions regarding Facebook’s role/responsibility in regulating and monitoring its platform’s health misinformation.

Published
2019-10-31
How to Cite
Rivera, Y. M., Smith, K. C., & Moran, M. B. (2019). “WHY WOULD SOMEONE INTENTIONALLY LIE?”: ASSESSING THE CREDIBILITY OF CANCER (MIS)INFORMATION ON FACEBOOK. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2019. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2019i0.11026
Section
Papers R