Assessing Credibility in Online Sexual Health Information based on the level of Readability, Sensational Tone and the use of Dutch Swearing Words
Luna Sernandez, Esther
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Today, for most adolescents the use of social networking sites plays a major role in their lives. However, the great level of accessibility to these networking sites makes it very easy for anyone to publish information related to sexual health information, risking spreading misinformation and low-quality facts. Thus, to improve the quality of sexual health information shared online and help young people to differentiate it from deceptive information, the present research analyses markers that are linked to the degree of information credibility such as the level of readability, the tone of speech, and the use of swearing words. The information concerning sexual health issues has been retrieved from Fok.nl Forum – accounting for a total of 9150 comments previously divided into five different sexual topics. Besides, seven categories of Dutch swearing words have been created. First, with the proportions of swearing categories per topic, a one-way ANOVA was implemented to see whether there are statistically significant differences across all topics. Furthermore, the readability measure of Gobbledygook was applied to test the level of readability per topic. Lastly, several statistical tests such as Chi-square of Independence, Cramer’s V, Goodman and Kruskal Lambda, and the Uncertainty Coefficient were implemented to see whether the topics are statistically independent of one another regarding the tone of speech. This research has found that comments that talk about sexual experiences have a significantly lower readability score compared to the rest of the topics. Along with this, swearing words related to illnesses, feces, sexuality, and homophobic and sexist slurs have a statistically significant different distribution in occurrence among all topics. Lastly, it has been found that there is no statistical difference in terms of the sensational and negative tone between the sexual health topics. Regarding further research, the level of toxicity and the analysis of slang concerning sexual health information are recommended to consider.