Socio-demographic Predictors for Misinformation Sharing and Authenticating amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic among Malaysian Young Adults
This study investigates the socio-demographic predictors for misinformation sharing and authenticating behavior among Malaysian young adults, based on data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic through a self-reporting survey. A total of 833 Malaysians aged between 18 and 35 years old were recruited. Results indicate that 64.5% (n = 537) of the respondents authenticated suspicious news, 16% (n = 133) shared misinformation knowingly, while 30% (n = 250) did so unknowingly. Frequency of sharing news (β = 0.229, p < 0.001), frequency of social media use (β = 0.135, p = 0.03), frequency of access to online news portals (β = - 0.141, p = 0.007) and the ability to identify misinformation (β = -0.161, p < 0.001) significantly predicted misinformation sharing. Conversely, only frequency of sharing news (β = -0.425; p < 0.001) and importance of reading real news (β = 0.873; p < 0.001) predicted authentication behavior. Findings suggest that the majority of the misinformation sharing behavior is accidental instead of intentional, and proposes several strategies that can be adopted to mitigate the wide spread of misinformation including seminars and trainings to improve an individual's social media literacy, critical thinking and analytical skill and also one's social responsibility as a good citizen.