Fake News Consumption: History
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Subjects: Others

This entry analyzes some of the psychological, partisan and ideological factors that influence the consumption of fake news. For a better understanding of the consumption of fake news, consult the review paper of the authors [1].

  • media consumption
  • fake news
  • social media
  • political ideology

1. Fake News Consumption [1]

[2]The entire structure of fake news (title, body of text, language and images used) is designed by its creator to be widely shared and go viral. Fake news is created with the aim of proliferating on social media [3], exploring emotional aspects (use of language that evokes strong feelings, bizarre and shocking images or coverage of tragic, dramatic and exaggerated events) to capture the user's attention [4][5][6][7]. In addition, fake news also seeks to be persuasive by covering events or subjects with a strong ideological and party burden [8]. In fact, the belief in fake news is positively related to political ideology and partisanship [9] . Several studies [10][9][2] have shown that people are more likely to believe false information that confirms their pre-existing (political, ideological or religious) beliefs. People are more likely to accept or reject certain arguments, news or information, depending on their political beliefs. Most of the literature seems to indicate that conservatives or people on the political right are more likely to believe fake news than liberals or people on the left [11][12][13][14]. Uscinski et al. (2016) found that partisanship affects belief in a conspiracy theory and that party affiliation tends to assume different attitudes towards different conspiracy theories [2]. Mainly, the tendency is for people to believe that it is political opposition that is related to conspiracy theories, rumors or illegal activities. However, Uscinski et al. (2016) suggest that both Democrats and Republicans are equally predisposed to accept conspiracy theories[2]. Still, the literature seems to indicate that ideologically right-wing people are more widely connected to conspiracy theories or are more likely to believe, consume and spread fake news [15][12][16][17][18].

In addition to the ideological and partisan aspects that motivate the consumption of fake news, the low educational level or digital iliteracy [19][20][21], the growing distrust in the media[22][23][24], low cognitive ability[25][26] and the close relationship with the person sharing the disinformation[27][28][29][3]  are the main motivations for believing and spreading fake news. In addition, the time the user devotes to social media[30] , age[11][31]  and their degree of exposure to misinformation content[12][9] also correlate with the belief in fake news.

In this entry, the factors associated with the dynamics of social networks (recommendation algorithms, echo chambers, filter bubbles, malicious social bots) that also contribute to the spread of fake news, were not addressed.


  1. João Pedro Baptista; Anabela Gradim; Understanding Fake News Consumption: A Review. Social Sciences 2020, 9, 185, 10.3390/socsci9100185.
  2. Joseph E. Uscinski; Casey Klofstad; Matthew D. Atkinson; What Drives Conspiratorial Beliefs? The Role of Informational Cues and Predispositions. Political Research Quarterly 2016, 69, 57-71, 10.1177/1065912915621621.
  3. Regina Rini; Fake News and Partisan Epistemology. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 2017, 27, E-43-43, 10.1353/ken.2017.0025.
  4. Andrew Duffy; Edson C. Tandoc Jr.; Rich Ling; Too good to be true, too good not to share: the social utility of fake news. Information, Communication & Society 2019, ., 1-15, 10.1080/1369118x.2019.1623904.
  5. Víctor García-Perdomo; Ramón Salaverría; Danielle K. Kilgo; Summer Harlow; To Share or Not to Share. Journalism Studies 2017, 19, 1180-1201, 10.1080/1461670x.2016.1265896.
  6. Sebastián Valenzuela; Martina Piña; Josefina Ramírez; Behavioral Effects of Framing on Social Media Users: How Conflict, Economic, Human Interest, and Morality Frames Drive News Sharing. Journal of Communication 2017, 67, 803-826, 10.1111/jcom.12325.
  7. Jonah Berger; Katherine L. Milkman; What Makes Online Content Viral?. Journal of Marketing Research 2012, 49, 192-205, 10.1509/jmr.10.0353.
  8. Baptista, João; Ethos, pathos and logos Comparative analysis of the (fake) news persuasive process. Eikon 2020, 1, 43-54, .
  9. Anna Elisabetta Galeotti; Believing fake news. Post-Truth, Philosophy and Law 2019, ., 58-76, 10.4324/9780429450778-6.
  10. Matthew Barnidge; Albert C. Gunther; Jinha Kim; Yangsun Hong; Mallory Perryman; Swee Kiat Tay; Sandra Knisely; Politically Motivated Selective Exposure and Perceived Media Bias. Communication Research 2017, 47, 82-103, 10.1177/0093650217713066.
  11. Andrew Guess; Jonathan Nagler; Joshua Tucker; Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook. Science Advances 2019, 5, eaau4586, 10.1126/sciadv.aau4586.
  12. Daniel Halpern; Sebastián Valenzuela; James Katz; Juan Pablo Miranda; From Belief in Conspiracy Theories to Trust in Others: Which Factors Influence Exposure, Believing and Sharing Fake News. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 2019, ., 217-232, 10.1007/978-3-030-21902-4_16.
  13. Identity concerns drive belief: The impact of partisan identity on the belief and dissemination of true and false news . Psyarxiv Preprints. Retrieved 2020-11-3
  14. Hunt Allcott; Matthew Gentzkow; Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Journal of Economic Perspectives 2017, 31, 211-236, 10.1257/jep.31.2.211.
  15. Karen M. Douglas; Joseph E. Uscinski; Robbie M. Sutton; Aleksandra Cichocka; Turkay Nefes; Chee Siang Ang; Farzin Deravi; Understanding Conspiracy Theories. Political Psychology 2019, 40, 3-35, 10.1111/pops.12568.
  16. Lewis R and Marwick AE (2017) Taking the red pill: ideological motivations for spreading online disinformation. In. Understanding and Addressing the Disinformation Ecosystem, pp. 18–22. Available at: https://firstdraftnews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/The-Disinformation -Ecosystem-20180207-v2.pdf (accessed 3 November 2020).
  17. Moreno Mancosu; Salvatore Vassallo; Cristiano Vezzoni; Believing in Conspiracy Theories: Evidence from an Exploratory Analysis of Italian Survey Data. South European Society and Politics 2017, 22, 327-344, 10.1080/13608746.2017.1359894.
  18. Marwick, Alice; Why do people share fake news? A sociotechnical model of media effects.. Georgetown Law Technology Review 2018, 2, 474-512, .
  19. Stephanie Craft; Seth Ashley; Adam Maksl; News media literacy and conspiracy theory endorsement. Communication and the Public 2017, 2, 388-401, 10.1177/2057047317725539.
  20. Joseph Kahne; Benjamin Bowyer; Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age: : Confronting the Challenges of Motivated Reasoning and Misinformation. American Educational Research Journal 2016, 54, 3-34, 10.3102/0002831216679817.
  21. Mihai-Ionuț Pop; Irina Ene; Influence of the educational level on the spreading of Fake News regarding the energy field in the online environment. Proceedings of the International Conference on Business Excellence 2019, 13, 1108-1117, 10.2478/picbe-2019-0097.
  22. Nielsen, Rasmus Kleis, and Lucas Graves. 2017. ‘News You Don’t Believe’: Audience Perspectives on Fake News. Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Available online: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:6eff4d14-bc72-404d-b78a-4c2573459ab8 (accessed on 15 October 2020).
  23. W. Lance Bennett; Steven Livingston; The disinformation order: Disruptive communication and the decline of democratic institutions. European Journal of Communication 2018, 33, 122-139, 10.1177/0267323118760317.
  24. Sander Van Der Linden; Costas Panagopoulos; Jon Roozenbeek; You are fake news: political bias in perceptions of fake news. Media, Culture & Society 2020, 42, 460-470, 10.1177/0163443720906992.
  25. Gordon Pennycook; David G. Rand; Who falls for fake news? The roles of bullshit receptivity, overclaiming, familiarity, and analytic thinking. Journal of Personality 2019, 88, 185-200, 10.1111/jopy.12476.
  26. Michael V. Bronstein; Gordon Pennycook; Adam Bear; David G. Rand; Tyrone D. Cannon; Belief in Fake News is Associated with Delusionality, Dogmatism, Religious Fundamentalism, and Reduced Analytic Thinking. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition 2019, 8, 108-117, 10.1016/j.jarmac.2018.09.005.
  27. David Sterrett; Dan Malato; Jennifer Benz; Liz Kantor; Trevor Tompson; Tom Rosenstiel; Jeff Sonderman; Kevin Loker; Who Shared It?: Deciding What News to Trust on Social Media. Digital Journalism 2019, 7, 783-801, 10.1080/21670811.2019.1623702.
  28. Sterret, David, Dan Malato, Jennifer Benz, Liz Kantor, Trevor Tompson, Tom Rosenstiel, Jeff Sonderman, Kevin Loker, and Emily Swanson. 2018. Who Shared It?: How Americans Decide What News to Trust on Social Media. NORC Working Paper Series WP-2018-001. Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago.
  29. Jason Turcotte; Chance York; Jacob Irving; Rosanne M. Scholl; Raymond J. Pingree; News Recommendations from Social Media Opinion Leaders: Effects on Media Trust and Information Seeking. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 2015, 20, 520-535, 10.1111/jcc4.12127.
  30. Jacob L Nelson; Harsh Taneja; The small, disloyal fake news audience: The role of audience availability in fake news consumption. New Media & Society 2018, 20, 3720-3737, 10.1177/1461444818758715.
  31. Rouli Manalu; Tandiyo Pradekso; Djoko Setyabudi; Understanding the Tendency of Media Users to Consume Fake News. Jurnal ILMU KOMUNIKASI 2018, 15, 1-16, 10.24002/jik.v15i1.1322.
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