Does the platform matter? Social media and COVID-19 conspiracy theory beliefs in 17 countries

Yannis Theocharis, Ana S. Cardenal, Soyeon Jin, Toril Aalberg, David Nicolas Hopmann, Jesper Strömbäck, Laia Castro, Frank Esser, Peter van Aelst, Claes de Vreese, Nicoleta Corbu, Karolina Koc-Michalska, Jörg Matthes, Christian Schemer, Tamir Sheafer, Sergio Splendore, James Stanyer, Agnieszka Stępińska, Václav Stetka

While the role of social media in the spread of conspiracy theories has received much attention, a key deficit in previous research is the lack of distinction between different types of platforms. This study places the role of social media affordances in facilitating the spread of conspiracy beliefs at the center of its enquiry. We examine the relationship between platform use and conspiracy theory beliefs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Relying on the concept of technological affordances, we theorize that variation across key features make some platforms more fertile places for conspiracy beliefs than others. Using data from a crossnational dataset based on a two-wave online survey conducted in 17 countries before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we show that Twitter has a negative effect on conspiracy beliefs—as opposed to all other platforms under examination which are found to have a positive effect.

Institut für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft
Externe Organisation(en)
Technische Universität München, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) , University of Gothenburg, Universität Zürich (UZH), University of Amsterdam (UvA), University of Antwerp, Audencia Business School, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Hebrew University Jerusalem, Universitá degli Studi di Milano, Loughborough University, Adam Mickiewicz University, University of Southern Denmark (SDU), National University of Political Studies and Public Administration
New Media & Society
ÖFOS 2012
508007 Kommunikationswissenschaft
ASJC Scopus Sachgebiete
Communication, Sociology and Political Science
Link zum Portal