When do Adolescents Fall For Fake News? Effect of Message Length and Emotional Content on Adolescents’ Perceived Accuracy of Fake News Message
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Fake news has become a major phenomenon in recent times, and social media plays a vital role in the proliferation of fake news online. Adolescents prefer consuming their news on social media, which makes them vulnerable to fake news. The characteristics of fake news, such as emotional content and message length, might cause adolescents to fall for fake news. This study aimed to examine the effect of emotional content and message length on adolescents’ perceived accuracy. Hence, this study conducted an experiment using a 2x2x2 factorial mixed design. A total of 107 adolescents performed a fake news recognition task by reading eight fake and real news messages and indicating their perceived accuracy for each news message. This study expected that adolescents would perceive long fake news messages as more accurate than short fake news messages, neutral content as more accurate than emotional content, and that the effect of emotional content would be stronger then message length. Results revealed significant results for the content of news messages, indicating that adolescents perceive fake neutral news messages as more accurate than fake emotional news messages. However, no significant effect on message length was found.