As mis- and disinformation continue proliferate in social media forums, it is critical to focus on how the older audience (over 55 years of age) engages and reacts to social media content. This constituency has been identified in research as especially vulnerable to believing and circulating disinformation. Now that we understand something about the structure of disinformation content, its appeals, and how platform affordances aid its circulation among this constituency, we need to enable this aging population to use social media responsibly. This project will do this in three ways.
First, our research will investigate what kinds of disinformation is most widely believed by older adults what the qualities are of those messages. Second, we will investigate some of the digital barriers that older adults face and develop training to assist them in evaluating social media messages, with a particular focus on health messaging related to the coronavirus. Third, we will host a conference to highlight the ways various countries have taken steps to curb disinformation. We will highlight the most productive approaches for redressing misinformation among older adults around the world and share policy recommendations within the US security and policy structures.
These approaches will enable us to expand knowledge about how dis- and misinformation operate in social media environments, how platform regulations or AI might be tailored to counter these problems, and how older adults might be trained to improve their social media encounters.
Soyoung Park, Sharon Strover, Jaewon Choi, and MacKenzie Schnell. “Mind Games: A Temporal Sentiment Analysis of the Political Messages of the Internet Research Agency on Facebook and Twitter.” New Media & Society.
Martin J. Riedl, Sharon Strover, Tiancheng Cao, Jaewon R. Choi, Brad Limov, and Mackenzie Schnell. “Reverse-Engineering Political Protest: The Russian Internet Research Agency in the Heart of Texas.” Information, Communication & Society.