The Role of Trust and Attitudes toward Democracy in the Dissemination of Disinformation

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Abstract

#disinformation #democracy #citizenship

Trust lies at the heart of the disinformation crisis, as citizens must decide which narratives to follow and whether to accept “alternative truths.” Therefore, trust in institutions that publish reliable information can act as a shield against disinformation. This comparative study investigates the role of trust in news media and political actors and general attitudes toward democracy in the willingness to spread disinformation (i.e., likes, shares, or comments). Findings of this study show that news media trust plays a subordinate role but that trust in social media news has a strong relationship with willingness to spread disinformation. In 2020, citizens in the United States and United Kingdom who had high trust in their governments were more willing to spread disinformation, whereas in France and Belgium, citizens who trusted opposition leaders were more likely to do so. Moreover, citizens who were satisfied with democracy appeared to be less vulnerable to disinformation, with the exception of those in the United States. Therefore, political actors bear great responsibility for the current (dis)information crisis because they can exploit citizens’ trust to their advantage.

Type of Publication
articles-and-papers
Theme
disinformation
Publishing
Digital Journalism
Publishing Date
2023
Language
english
Status
open-access
DOI
10.1080/21670811.2023.2200196
Authors
Edda Humprecht