Motivated Fake News Perception: The Impact of News Sources and Policy Support on Audiences’ Assessment of News Fakeness

Tsang, Stephanie Jean
Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

An online experiment (N = 280) exposed participants in Hong Kong to an anti-police WhatsApp news message during the extradition bill controversy. Although source verification is commonly recommended as a strategy to avoid being deceived by fake news, the findings did not reveal that the news source (legacy news outlet vs. online forum vs. no source) impacted the perceived fakeness of the news message. Nonetheless, participants holding opposing stances were found to perceive the same news message to be fake to significantly varying degrees, providing evidence that motivated reasoning plays in the spread of fake news.