Effect of Conformity on Perceived Trustworthiness of News in Social Media
A catalyst for the spread of fake news is the existence of comments that users make in support of, or against, such articles. In this article, we investigate whether critical and supportive comments can induce conformity in how readers perceive trustworthiness of news articles and respond to them. We find that individuals tend to conform to the majority’s opinion of an article’s trustworthiness (58%), especially when challenged by larger majorities who are critical of the article’s credibility, or when less confident about their personal judgment. Moreover, we find that individuals who conform are more inclined to take action: to report articles they perceive as fake, and to comment on and share articles they perceive as real. We conclude with a discussion on the implications of our findings for mitigating the dispersion of fake news on social media.