In this study, researchers developed and tested a model to explain why people share unverified COVID-19 information through social media.
To determine what motivates individuals to share unverified information about COVID-19 through social media, researchers developed a model drawing on theories of health perception and cognitive overload. They determined that a person’s trust in online information and perceived information overload are strong predictors of unverified information sharing. In addition, men are more likely than women to share information without verifying its reliability. Women, however, are more likely to suffer from cyberchondria (i.e., online health searches with worsening anxiety or distress). To decrease the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, the authors suggest enhancing healthy skepticism of COVID-19 information while also guarding against information overload.