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The Impact of Social Endorsement Cues and Manipulability Concerns on Perceptions of News Credibility
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking  (IF4.157),  Pub Date : 2021-06-14, DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2020.0566
Slgi “Sage” Lee, Fan Liang, Lauren Hahn, Daniel S. Lane, Brian E. Weeks, Nojin Kwak

Social endorsement cues (SEC) offer information about how online users have engaged and evaluated online content. Some view that SEC thus can serve as useful heuristics when users evaluate the credibility of news content on social media. At the same time, SEC can be manipulated by a variety of commercial and political actors on social media. This study examines whether SEC influence individuals' credibility judgments of political news on social media, and how the salience of concerns that SEC can be manipulated by others can undermine the perceived credibility. Using an experiment, we found that SEC had a negative influence on news credibility, regardless of whether or not SEC manipulability concerns were primed. An independent effect of SEC manipulability concerns was also found, such that priming thoughts about the manipulability of SEC led participants to rate the news post as less credible, regardless of whether that post included SEC. These results suggest a spillover effect whereby concerns over the manipulation of SEC can create doubt about the authenticity of other cues from the news (e.g., source and message), and lead to perceptions that news shared on social media can be manipulated more generally.