Conspiracy Theories and Flat-Earth Videos on YouTube

Shaheed N Mohammed

Abstract


The advent of digital user-created media platforms such as YouTube has made possible the spread of a wide range of information without the constraints of traditional mass media such as editorial gatekeeping. This democratized user-created media environment provides an outlet for subject matter that would otherwise not receive broad exposure–including material that seeks to discredit specific scientific findings and science as a whole. The present paper examines YouTube videos that advocate the idea of a flat earth and tests for conspiratorial ideation using a version of the Conspiratorial Mentality Questionnaire (Bruder, Haffke, Neave, Nouripanah, & Imhoff, 2013). The research finds that flat-earth videos significantly outnumbered debunking videos, were almost twice as long on average and were more likely to include conspiracy ideation, science denial and religious thought and to reference other social media. On the other hand, debunking videos were more likely to reference established science and enjoyed greater favorability ratings from viewers.


Keywords


Science; conspiracy theories; flat-earth; YouTube; Internet disinformation

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References


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