Purpose. To elaborate the picture of credibility assessment by examining how participants of online discussion evaluate the informational credibility of conspiracy theories.
Design/methodology/approach. Descriptive quantitative analysis and qualitative content analysis of 2,663 posts submitted to seven Reddit threads discussing a conspiracy operation, that is, the damage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines in September 2022. It was examined how the participants of online discussion assess the credibility of information constitutive of conspiracy theories speculating about (1) suspected actors responsible for the damage, (2) their motives and (3) the ways in which the damage was made. The credibility assessments focussed on diverse sources offering information about the above three factors.
Findings. The participants assessed the credibility of information by drawing on four main criteria: plausibility of arguments, honesty in argumentation, similarity to one's beliefs and provision of evidence. Most assessments were negative and indicated doubt about the informational believability of conspiracy theories about the damage. Of the information sources referred to in the discussion, the posts submitted by fellow participants, television programmes and statements provided by governmental organizations were judged most critically, due to implausible argumentation and advocacy of biased views.
Research limitations/implications. As the study focuses on a sample of posts dealing with conspiracy theories about a particular event, the findings cannot be generalized to concern the informational credibility conspiracy narratives.
Originality/value. The study pioneers by providing an in-depth analysis of the nature of credibility assessments by focussing on information constitutive of conspiracy theories.
|Aslib Journal of Information Management
|DOI - pysyväislinkit
|E-pub ahead of print - 6 lokak. 2023
|A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
- Jufo-taso 1