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The amplification of exaggerated and false news on social media: the roles of platform use, motivations, affect, and ideology

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journal contribution
posted on 17.03.2021, 12:03 by Andrew ChadwickAndrew Chadwick, Cristian VaccariCristian Vaccari, Johannes Kaiser
We use a unique, nationally representative, survey of UK social media users (n = 2,005) to identify the main factors associated with a specific and particularly troubling form of sharing behavior: the amplification of exaggerated and false news. Our conceptual framework and research design advance research in two ways. First, we pinpoint and measure behavior that is intended to spread, rather than correct or merely draw attention to, misleading information. Second, we test this behavior’s links to a wider array of explanatory factors than previously considered in research on mis-/disinformation. Our main findings are that a substantial minority—a tenth—of UK social media users regularly engages in the amplification of exaggerated or false news on UK social media. This behavior is associated with four distinctive, individual-level, factors: (1) increased use of Instagram, but not other public social media platforms, for political news; (2) what we term identity-performative sharing motivations; (3) negative affective orientation toward social media as a space for political news; and (4) right wing ideology. We discuss the implications of these findings and the need for further research on how platform affordances and norms, emotions, and ideology matter for the diffusion of dis-/misinformation.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Communication and Media

Published in

American Behavioral Scientist


SAGE Publications


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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Acceptance date









Prof Andrew Chadwick. Deposit date: 16 March 2021