QUENCHING THE THIRST FOR INFORMATION WHEN THERE ARE NO GATEKEEPERS.
A study examining trust in social media crisis information based on the source of the information.
Social media is rapidly being used as a source of information, including crisis-related information. The current study investigates how the sources of information available on social media affect users’ trust in certain information. The study adopts the covid-19 pandemic as an empirical crisis to investigate the trust. The study was conducted among students at the University of Gothenburg. Specifically, a survey was conducted among students at the university measuring two trust constructs, the trustworthiness in social media crisis information and the willingness to follow crisis instruction on social media.
The theoretical framework for the study was the MAIN model where Authority heuristics and focus heuristics of the model were examined on how they trigger trust. User’s trust in crisis information on social media was tested on three main sources, Authoritative source, known source, and unknown source. The results of the study indicate that Authority heuristics triggers high trust in respondents’ trust in social media crisis information. These findings have numerous implications for crisis communication theory and practice. These ramifications are examined, as well as the study’s shortcomings and future research prospects.