Online Disinformation and the Psychological Bases of Prejudice and Political Conservatism

AbstractIt is widely believed that the impact of fake news, internet rumors, hoaxes, deceptive memes etc. are spilling into the physical world from the virtual world. In fact, social media has had a significant role in the origination and spread of such deceptive communication, as social media users often lack awareness of the intentional manipulation of online content and are easily tricked into believing unverifiable content. In an increasingly polarized world where social media and the internet have pushed people to live inside “echo chambers” and “filter bubbles,” people consciously and unconsciously are exposed only to content that reinforce their confirmation bias. In such a scenario, people only agree with content that aligns with their preexisting beliefs and disagree with or label as “fake” content that is opposed to their worldview. This paper proposes to study the psychological differences that cause people to either agree or disagree with such prejudiced and ideologically oriented online disinformation.


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