Vulnerable populations and misinformation: A mixed-methods approach to underserved older adults’ online information assessment

Seo, Hyunjin; Blomberg, Matthew; Altschwager, Darcey; Vu, Hong Tien
New Media & Society

This study examines how low-income African-American older adults, one of the groups most vulnerable to misinformation online, assess the credibility of online information. In examining this, we conducted both face-to-face interviews and a survey and then analyzed how their digital media use, demographics, self-efficacy, and involvement with particular topics were associated with their credibility assessments of online information. Our results suggest that education and topic involvement are statistically significant factors associated with assessments of message content and source credibility. Moreover, for our respondents, assessments of content credibility, as opposed to those of source credibility, were far more challenging. This research is one of the few studies examining online information credibility assessments made by low-income minority older adults. Theoretical and practical implications of our results are discussed in the context of misinformation, credibility assessment, and the digital divide.