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When Do Claims about Disinformation Fuel Distrust?

Evidence from Survey Experiments in the US and Taiwan

Add to calendar 2023-04-18 17:00 2023-04-18 18:30 Europe/Rome When Do Claims about Disinformation Fuel Distrust? Sala del Capitolo Badia Fiesolana YYYY-MM-DD


18 April 2023

17:00 - 18:30 CEST


Sala del Capitolo

Badia Fiesolana

In the framework of the EUI Political Behaviour Colloquium, this seminar features a paper presentation by EUI Jean Monnet Fellow, Scott Radnitz.
Disinformation has widely been recognized as a threat to democracies, as it leads to the formation of false beliefs, intensifies societal divisions, and erodes trust. At the same time, in politically divided societies, not only do partisan opportunists create, spread, or facilitate disinformation, various actors also make claims about disinformation. This paper analyzes the downstream effects of the high salience of disinformation, by assessing the degree to which claims about disinformation can lead people to downgrade belief in information, whether true, false or indeterminate. We conducted original survey experiments in the US (n=3,400) and Taiwan (n=2,600), politically divided countries that have been targeted in disinformation campaigns by domestic and foreign actors. In order to assess how people respond to claims of disinformation, we randomly vary the identities of the claimant and the supposed disinforming actor. We show how, in assessing disinformation claims, people are influenced not only by the content of the information but also by their identities and ideological commitments. Disturbingly, we show that claiming disinformation has comparable downward effects on belief in both true and false statements. The findings point to a measurable downside to the otherwise justified efforts of policy makers, scholars, and media to highlight the threat of disinformation.
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