University of Oulu

S. Wijenayake, D. Hettiachchi, S. Hosio, V. Kostakos and J. Goncalves, "Effect of Conformity on Perceived Trustworthiness of News in Social Media," in IEEE Internet Computing, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 12-19, 1 Jan.-Feb. 2021, doi: 10.1109/MIC.2020.3032410

Effect of conformity on perceived trustworthiness of news in social media

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Author: Wijenayake, Senuri1; Hettiachchi, Danula1; Hosio, Simo2;
Organizations: 1The University of Melbourne
2University of Oulu
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-26


A catalyst for the spread of fake news is the existence of comments that users make in support of, or against, such articles. In this article, we investigate whether critical and supportive comments can induce conformity in how readers perceive trustworthiness of news articles and respond to them. We find that individuals tend to conform to the majority’s opinion of an article’s trustworthiness (58%), especially when challenged by larger majorities who are critical of the article’s credibility, or when less confident about their personal judgment. Moreover, we find that individuals who conform are more inclined to take action: to report articles they perceive as fake, and to comment on and share articles they perceive as real. We conclude with a discussion on the implications of our findings for mitigating the dispersion of fake news on social media.

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Series: IEEE Internet computing
ISSN: 1089-7801
ISSN-E: 1941-0131
ISSN-L: 1089-7801
Volume: 25
Issue: 1
Pages: 12 - 19
DOI: 10.1109/MIC.2020.3032410
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 213 Electronic, automation and communications engineering, electronics
113 Computer and information sciences
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