Rumor Has It: Examining the Effects of Facebook Addiction on Political Knowledge Gullibility

Cynthia Nichols, Lori Melton McKinnon, Anna Geary

Abstract


Political rumors, half-truths and unfortunate candid comments from candidates spread like wildfire across the social media spectrum, meaning social channels require constant care and maintenance. The purpose of this study is to examine how Facebook addiction can affect levels of gullibility to online political rumors. Prior to the 2012 elections, more than 500 respondents participated in a survey designed to measure gullibility to online political rumors. Respondents reported levels of addiction to Facebook and were asked to determine the validity of 20 statements regarding President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The statements varied in their level of accuracy, some obviously rumor, others seemingly true, but all originated from Internet sources and were disseminated by various Facebook users. In separate survey sections, political knowledge and the political activity of the users Facebook “friends” were measured. Results indicated that both Facebook addiction and gullibility decreased with age and the two variables have a strong correlation between them. 

 


Keywords


social media; facebook; politics; gullabuility; facebook addiction scale

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References


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