COVID-19 and Diffusion of Rumors among Arab Social Media Users: Reasons and Solutions
As the major source of information, social media has outpaced mainstream news channels. In these information overloaded days, differentiating rumors from facts is crucial and difficult. This study aims to explore the respondents’ perception of the reasons for spreading rumors related to the Coronavirus on social media. Furthermore, it seeks to look at the respondents’ perception of the ways of combating fake news related to the Coronavirus on social media. Lastly, the study attempts to know to what extent the respondents are satisfied with the performance of the media institutions in dealing with the Coronavirus. A cross-sectional survey design was used with a non-probability sample to explore the respondents’ perceptions of the above-mentioned aims. A total of 1274 self-selected cases from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates were investigated. The study finds that all respondents agree with the reasons listed in the survey about spreading rumors related to the Coronavirus on social media, except for the reasons of lacking transparency on behalf of the Ministry of Health and other official bodies and lacking accurate information about the Coronavirus. Moreover, the study confirms the respondents’ beliefs that all listed ways effectively combat fake news related to the Coronavirus on social media. Furthermore, the study finds that the respondents are satisfied with the performance of the media institutions in dealing with the Coronavirus in their countries. With these findings, the study significantly contributes to the literature. It may assist various parties, such as the government and media organizations, in making the proper decision to combat the spread of rumors via social media.
Keywords: COVID-19, diffusion of rumors, Arab social media users, combating fake news.
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