Presentation, Nov. 13, ‘Something Real About Fake News: How Mindfulness and Mindlessness Drive The Echo-Chamber!’

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, from 1 to 2 p.m. in Wood Hall 324, the Austin E. Cofrin School of Business will be hosting a research presentation entitled, “Something Real About Fake News: How Mindfulness and Mindlessness Drive The Echo-Chamber!” This presentation will be presented by UW-Green Bay Prof. Gaurav Bansal (MIS and Statistics) and was authored by Prof. Bansal and Prof. Aaron Weinschenk (Political Science).

A message from the authors:
The online generation and dissemination of false information through online social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have garnered immense public attention following the 2016 Brexit referendum and also the 2016 and 2018 US elections, among others. The significance gained by this phenomenon is nontrivial, as evident from the fact that the Oxford Dictionaries selected “post-truth” as the 2016 international word of the year. Recent research shows that fake news spreads significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than true news and has significant harmful effects. There is little research examining how the fake news spreads and the challenges it poses at multiple levels including individuals, organizations, and societies. Such understanding is important to develop awareness programs to limit the spread and lessen the degree of the negative consequences posed by the spread of fake news. Online social networking sites are experimenting with crowd-powered programs to reduce the spread of fake news and misinformation, but such measures are not very effective and also very costly. All signs indicate that it will get worse as AI gets more sophisticated in the production and targeting of fake news. In this research, we examine the role of several theories such as mindfulness, polarization and echo-chamber effect, and social influence to understand what makes people share fake news; even when they are alerted that it is not 100% accurate. Data were collected from 500 MTurk users using eight different political scenarios, from all over the US and analyzed using both PLS and covariance-based SEM techniques. We also develop a novel scale to measure social media mindfulness. The study offers several insightful findings such as how social media engagement could enhance the influence of the friend sharing the “fake news,” pushing the respondent into the “echo-chamber” where mindfulness ceases to help. We will discuss the theoretical, managerial as well as the social implications.

Acknowledgment: The authors would like to thank Frederick E. Baer Professorship in Business for financial support in conducting this research.