Social Media Misinformation and Fake News
: a Consumer Behaviour Perspective

  • Giandomenico Di Domenico

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

    Abstract

    Over the last years, the rapid spreading of fake news and general misinformation through social media platforms has posed serious threats to individuals, organizations and society at large. Despite the prevalence of misinformation, the marketing and consumer behaviour literature has long overlooked the study of this phenomenon, leaving the knowledge on the topic scattered across different disciplines and perspectives.
    Addressing this gap within the literature, this thesis aims at reconciling the interdisciplinary literature within the area of misinformation, in addition to proposing original and specific research directions for marketing and consumer behaviour scholars. Through the utilisation of different methods and applying interdisciplinary theories (Dual Process Theories, Social Influence Theory and Legitimacy Theory), this dissertation provides an in-depth analysis of the concepts of fake news and social media misinformation. In doing so, the research identifies the legitimization processes of misinformation on social media that fuel users’ acceptance and willingness to disseminate said contents.
    The contributions of the dissertation are as follows first, by performing a systematic review of the interdisciplinary literature on the topic, this research revises the definition of the term “fake news”, differentiating it by other related concepts. Secondly, this research delineates the legitimization process of misinformation and tests the impact of different legitimacy cues on social media sharing behaviour. The implications of this research are relevant both for managers and policy makers. From the managerial point of view, these findings help social media platforms in their lifelong battle against misinformation, suggesting that different information presentation formats on social media are conducive to less willingness to share misinformation. From the policy point of view, this research shows how policy makers could use strategies (e.g.
    ensuring credentialism) to de-legitimise misinformation and limit its spreading. The papers included in this thesis will help towards building a better understanding of the dynamics of misinformation in the context of social media, and evaluating its impact on the consumer and organizations.
    Date of Award3 Oct 2022
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorGiampaolo Viglia (Supervisor), Jason Sit (Supervisor) & Valentina Pitardi (Supervisor)

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