Recent years show a growing concern about the spread of misinformation on social media. One of the avenues to address this challenge is the practice of social correction—the correction of misinformation conducted by other social media users. While social correction focuses on individuals in the context of their respective social media networks, we offer the concept of collective social correction: an ongoing practice of information verification, occurring within group contexts. Employing a mixed-methods approach, we examine collective social correction by analysing the case study of a large-scale Israeli WhatsApp group, led by a journalist, and devoted to informal discussion of politics and news. Our findings point at the importance of active, discursive processes of information verification in the current media environment, particularly when it comes to political (mis)information. The study further highlights the role of group dynamics and group norms—modelled by the behaviour of everyday participants as well as of the group admin—in promoting the adoption of journalistic practices of fact-checking and source vetting and increasing participant accountability. Finally, the paper considers to what extent the interplay between social dynamics and information verification processes can inform our understanding of other, non-specialized group contexts as well.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the “WhatsApp Misinformation and Social Science Research Award,” granted to the author as an unrestricted research gift. The author would like to thank the research assistants who worked on this project: Tali Aharoni, Omer Fried, Hadas Gur-Ze’ev, Inbar Katz, Keren Soimu, and Avital Zalik. Thank you to many colleagues who have provided valuable feedback on this project, including Meital Balmas, Ifat Maoz, Patrícia Rossini, Shyam Sundar, Ori Tenenboim, and Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt. Special thanks goes to Tal Schneider and all participants of the Workers and the Pioneers who allowed me to conduct this ongoing research project, and to Or Barak who generously granted me access and assistance in using his script for working with the WhatsApp data.
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- journalistic practices
- meso news-space
- social correction
- social media