It is widely known that fake news is dangerous and social media can be hotbeds of disinformation. But why is it so difficult to eradicate fake news even when people know how to identify it? This question motivated Barui K Waruwu, a PhD candidate at our department, to examine news authentication behaviors on social media during his time as a visiting PhD student at Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, in 2019. From his collaboration with NTU researchers, Barui recently published an article in New Media & Society of which he is the lead author.
Among other illuminating findings, the research found that news is a form of social knowledge, and as such, individuals cannot decide if it is real or fake without having that decision somehow validated by people whose opinions they value. Unfortunately, in many situations, this social validation on news authenticity is way too easy to obtain even when the news is actually bogus. This research challenges the conventional ways of looking at fake news in the online environment and discusses the implications on how to more effectively inoculate the community against the hazard of disinformation.
On his experience with the research collaboration, Barui said “It was a truly humbling and rewarding experience and I’m grateful to my advisor, Dr. Marko Skoric, for making the collaboration possible.”