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Private citizen perceptions of fake news, echo chambers and populism

Private citizen perceptions of fake news, echo chambers and populism
Private citizen perceptions of fake news, echo chambers and populism
Unexpected election outcomes in recent years has led to mounting interest in the effects of online phenomena such as the selective propagation of misinformation, the formation of so-called echo chambers, and the exploitation of digital media by extremist groups. The digital citizen is therefore increasingly exposed to bias undermining the key assumptions of liberal democracy. We recently reported a consultation of expert opinion on threats from fake news, echo chambers and populism, which highlighted concern around online information dissemination. But if a traditional view that populism sees
expert opinion itself as a threat, how would the general public react? This paper takes our earlier findings further to develop a quantitative instrument to validate responses of private individuals. We operationalise public concern via the degree to which a self-selecting cohort of 109 citizens from 18 to over 70 years of age agree or otherwise with the assertions derived from our previous consultation on a 4-point Likert scale. We sought to categorise participants not only in terms of age group and reported gender but also with reference to their propensity to trust both traditional and online media presentation of information, using an instrument suggested in related research. Such categorisation had no statistically significant effect on responses: the observed level of concern was not attributable to age, gender, or reported trust levels in media. K-Means
clustering, with K = 3, gave optimal discrimination, revealing three sub-populations: those unconcerned by expert assertions, those neither concerned nor completely unconcerned, and those who reported high levels of concern. The clustering echoes what has been reported elsewhere on privacy attitudes, but also suggests that awareness of potential Internet players may be the start of increased concern. Having validated the derived instrument, it will be tested in future with a larger cohort
212-221
Academic Conferences and Publishing International
Pickering, Brian
225088d0-729e-4f17-afe2-1ad1193ccae6
Taylor, Steve
9ee68548-2096-4d91-a122-bbde65f91efb
Boniface, Michael
f30bfd7d-20ed-451b-b405-34e3e22fdfba
Karpasitis, Christos
Pickering, Brian
225088d0-729e-4f17-afe2-1ad1193ccae6
Taylor, Steve
9ee68548-2096-4d91-a122-bbde65f91efb
Boniface, Michael
f30bfd7d-20ed-451b-b405-34e3e22fdfba
Karpasitis, Christos

Pickering, Brian, Taylor, Steve and Boniface, Michael (2020) Private citizen perceptions of fake news, echo chambers and populism. Karpasitis, Christos (ed.) In Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on Social Media. Academic Conferences and Publishing International. pp. 212-221 .

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Unexpected election outcomes in recent years has led to mounting interest in the effects of online phenomena such as the selective propagation of misinformation, the formation of so-called echo chambers, and the exploitation of digital media by extremist groups. The digital citizen is therefore increasingly exposed to bias undermining the key assumptions of liberal democracy. We recently reported a consultation of expert opinion on threats from fake news, echo chambers and populism, which highlighted concern around online information dissemination. But if a traditional view that populism sees
expert opinion itself as a threat, how would the general public react? This paper takes our earlier findings further to develop a quantitative instrument to validate responses of private individuals. We operationalise public concern via the degree to which a self-selecting cohort of 109 citizens from 18 to over 70 years of age agree or otherwise with the assertions derived from our previous consultation on a 4-point Likert scale. We sought to categorise participants not only in terms of age group and reported gender but also with reference to their propensity to trust both traditional and online media presentation of information, using an instrument suggested in related research. Such categorisation had no statistically significant effect on responses: the observed level of concern was not attributable to age, gender, or reported trust levels in media. K-Means
clustering, with K = 3, gave optimal discrimination, revealing three sub-populations: those unconcerned by expert assertions, those neither concerned nor completely unconcerned, and those who reported high levels of concern. The clustering echoes what has been reported elsewhere on privacy attitudes, but also suggests that awareness of potential Internet players may be the start of increased concern. Having validated the derived instrument, it will be tested in future with a larger cohort

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Published date: 2 July 2020
Venue - Dates: 7th European Conference on Social Media, Cyprus, 2020-07-02 - 2020-07-03

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442241
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442241
PURE UUID: 027776b0-83bb-42ff-ad02-f59815ea3cb3
ORCID for Brian Pickering: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6815-2938

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Date deposited: 09 Jul 2020 16:39
Last modified: 07 Aug 2020 01:38

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Contributors

Author: Brian Pickering ORCID iD
Author: Steve Taylor
Author: Michael Boniface
Editor: Christos Karpasitis

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