Impact of mobile connectivity and freedom on fake news propensity during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-country empirical examination

"COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a surge in the amount of fake news circulating on the Internet. However, despite the global bearing of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a significant variance in the propensity of COVID-19 related fake news instances across nations. To better understand the national-level factors contributing to the spread of fake news during the current pandemic, we theorise and examine the relationships of “mobile connectivity” and “freedom” (economic, political, and media) in a nation, with fake news propensity. We test the proposed model through a unique dataset comprising 72 countries generated by combining 6 independent cross-country data sources. We find that “mobile connectivity” and “political freedom” in a nation contribute to COVID-19 related fake news propensity, whereas “economic” and “media freedom” inhibit it. Our study provides preliminary insights into the mechanisms through which national-level systemic resources can be leveraged for battling the spread of fake news during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. In addition, our study offers several important implications for governments and policymakers that we believe will be instrumental in stimulating future research on the subject."

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Written by Anuragini Shirish, Shirish C.Srivastava and Shalini Chandra, Taylor and Francis Online (20201).