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The campaign disinformation divide: believing and sharing news in the 2019 UK general election
We explain why citizens believed and shared false political information during the 2019 UK general election campaign. In two surveys of samples mirroring the adult population conducted before the vote (total N=4018), we showed respondents 24 different news statements and asked if they had seen them before, whether they believed them, and how likely they would be to share them on social media. The statements included actual disinformation that was circulating and had been debunked, placebos that did not feature in the campaign but were carefully constructed to resemble actual false statements spreading at the time, and true statements that were being reported during the campaign. We find that the more that respondents received their campaign news via professional news organizations, the more they were able to distinguish true from false information. Conversely, the more that respondents used social media for campaign news, the less they were able to distinguish true from false information. These differences also shaped the intention to share true versus false news, and false news, once perceived as accurate, was more likely to be shared than true news overall. This “campaign disinformation divide” between getting news from professional journalistic organizations and news from social media has important implications for contemporary election campaigns in democratic public spheres.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Communication and Media