After a period of initial enthusiasm about the greater communication power offered to citizens by the Internet, scholars now share a widespread concern about online participation in problematic news cycles. In particular, social media (SM) have attracted scholars’ interest in mis- and disinformation processes. Less attention has been paid to semi-private instant messaging services (IMs); moreover, the literature about SM/IMs has principally investigated the process of fake news amplification, neglecting other participatory practices that can challenge democratic processes when driven by cognitive bias, inadequate skills, or digital hate. Against this background, and distinguishing between SM and IMs, this study provides evidence about the impact of citizens’ digital news use, online political discussion, and ideological extremism on misinformation amplification, verification, and correction. Relying on a longitudinal survey administered during the Covid-19 emergency to a representative sample of online Italian adults, the study shows a counter-intuitive and paradoxical positive association between the expressive use of SM/IMs and these three forms of participation in problematic information cycles. Moreover, the analyses show that extreme ideological stances asymmetrically affect these participatory practices. These associations encourage further research to understand the extent to which – in other social and media contexts – a politically active and ideologically extreme citizenry may increase online problematic information
Iannelli, L., & Marino, G. (2022). Participation in Problematic News Cycles on Social Media and Instant Messaging Services during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Impact of News Use, Political Discussion, and Ideological Extremism. Comunicazione politica, 23(3), 381-402.