Impact of influencers’ Facebook pages in cultivating fear and terror among youths during the COVID-19 pandemic

Reham Gamal Ahmed Salem Omar 1 * , Andreu Casero-Ripollés 1
More Detail
1 Universitat Jaume I de Castelló, Castelló, SPAIN
* Corresponding Author
Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 13, Issue 2, Article No: e202314. https://doi.org/10.30935/ojcmt/13005
OPEN ACCESS   855 Views   806 Downloads   Published online: 26 Feb 2023
Download Full Text (PDF)

ABSTRACT

Many research studies defined news pages that connect users with public affairs as social media influencers. This includes opinion leaders, journalists, media personnel, editors, and political experts. In this sense, news consumption on influencers’ Facebook pages can have the same cultivation impact as consuming news on any offline platform, particularly during times of threat. Within this, we aim to reexamine the cultivation theory in the context of social media. Thus, we explore the role of influencers on Facebook in cultivating threat perception among youths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, to examine the possible correlation between threat perception and favoring of more restrictive policies on Facebook news coverage. For this, we used the survey method (n=1,309) on youths aged 18-35 years in Egypt, Spain, and the USA. In this respect, our data revealed a significant relationship between news consumption on influencers’ Facebook pages and threat level. The more people consume news on influencers’ Facebook pages, the higher their threat perception is. Our findings also demonstrate that even though the cultivation assumption is valid in the context of Facebook, there are variations from the TV context postulation. Nowadays, people are aware of the effect of their news exposure on shaping their perception yet being aware did not mediate the cultivation effect.

CITATION

Omar, R. G. A. S., & Casero-Ripollés, A. (2023). Impact of influencers’ Facebook pages in cultivating fear and terror among youths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 13(2), e202314. https://doi.org/10.30935/ojcmt/13005

REFERENCES

  • Ahmad, A. R., & Murad, H. R. (2020). The impact of social media on panic during the COVID-19 pandemic in Iraqi Kurdistan: Online questionnaire study. Medical Internet Research, 22(5), e19556. https://doi.org/10.2196/19556
  • Ahmed, M. Z., Ahmed, O., Aibao, Z., Hanbin, S., Siyu, L., & Ahmad, A. (2020). Epidemic of COVID-19 in China and associated psychological problems. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 51, 102092. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajp.2020.102092
  • Bene, M. (2017). Influenced by peers: Facebook as an information source for young people. Social Media+ Society, 3(2), 2056305117716273. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305117716273
  • Bergen-Cico, D. (2020). Why monitoring your media consumption during COVID-19 is important? Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University. https://surface.syr.edu/lerner/51/
  • Bergström, A., & Jervelycke Belfrage, M. (2018). News in social media: Incidental consumption and the role of opinion leaders. Digital Journalism, 6(5), 583-598. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2018.1423625
  • Bobkowski, P. S. (2015). Sharing the news: Effects of informational utility and opinion leadership on online news sharing. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 92(2), 320-345. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699015573194
  • Boukes, M. (2019). Social network sites and acquiring current affairs knowledge: The impact of Twitter and Facebook usage on learning about the news. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 16(1), 36-51. https://doi.org/10.1080/19331681.2019.1572568
  • Bridgman, A., Merkley, E., Loewen, P. J., Owen, T., Ruths, D., Teichmann, L., & Zhilin, O. (2020). The causes and consequences of COVID-19 misperceptions: Understanding the role of news and social media. Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review. https://doi.org/10.37016/mr-2020-028
  • Casero-Ripollés, A. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on the media system. Communicative and democratic consequences of news consumption during the outbreak. El Profesional de la Información [The Information Professional], 29(2), e290223. https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2020.mar.23
  • Casero-Ripollés, A. (2021). Influencers in the political conversation on Twitter: Identifying digital authority with big data. Sustainability, 13(5), 2851. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052851
  • Casero-Ripollés, A. (2022). Political influencers. In A. Ceron (Ed.), Elgar encyclopedia of technology and politics (pp. 163-166). Edward Elgar.
  • Casero-Ripollés, A., Alonso-Muñoz, L., & Marcos-García, S. (2022). The influence of political actors in the digital public debate on Twitter about the negotiations for the formation of the Government in Spain. American Behavioral Scientist, 66(3), 307-322. https://doi.org/10.1177/00027642211003159
  • Chan, M. (2016). Social network sites and political engagement: Exploring the impact of Facebook connections and uses on political protest and participation. Mass Communication and Society, 19(4), 430-451. https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2016.1161803
  • Cho, J., Keum, H., & Shah, D. V. (2015). News consumers, opinion leaders, and citizen consumers: Moderators of the consumption-participation link. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 92(1), 161-178. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699014554766
  • Cinelli, M., Quattrociocchi, W., Galeazzi, A., Valensise, C. M., Brugnoli, E., Schmidt, A. L., & Scala, A. (2020). The COVID-19 social media infodemic. arXiv preprint arXiv:2003.05004. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-73510-5
  • Daniel Ong’ong’a, O., & Demuyakor, J. (2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19)” infodemic” in the social media: A survey of Kenya international students in China. New Media and Mass Communication, 90, 2224-3267.
  • De Coninck, D., d’Haenens, L., & Matthys, K. (2020). Forgotten key players: News media as agents of information and persuasion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health, 183, 65-66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2020.05.011
  • de León, E., Makhortykh, M., Gil-Lopez, T., Urman, A., & Adam, S. (2022). News, threats, and trust: How COVID-19 news shaped political trust, and how threat perceptions conditioned this relationship. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 19401612221087179. https://doi.org/10.1177/19401612221087179
  • Deborah, A., Michela, A., & Anna, C. (2019). How to quantify social media influencers: An empirical application at the Teatro alla Scala. Heliyon, 5(5), e01677. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e01677
  • Enke, N., & Borchers, N. S. (2019). Social media influencers in strategic communication: A conceptual framework for strategic social media influencer communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 13(4), 261-277. https://doi.org/10.1080/1553118X.2019.1620234
  • Gallotti, R., Valle, F., Castaldo, N., Sacco, P., & De Domenico, M. (2020). Assessing the risks of” infodemics” in response to COVID-19 epidemics. arXiv preprint arXiv:2004.03997. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-00994-6
  • García-Castro, J. D., & Pérez-Sánchez, R. (2018). Fear of crime and cultivation effect. social and psychological predictors. Universitas Psychologica, 17(3), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.11144/Javeriana.upsy17-3.fcce
  • Gritckova, A. (2016). “News consumption is not just something we do, it is something we do in a particular place” news media on Facebook and its impact on young users. https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:974881/FULLTEXT01.pdf
  • Hodson, J., & Petersen, B. (2019). Diversity in Canadian election-related Twitter discourses: Influential voices and the media logic of# elxn42 and# cdnpoli hashtags. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 16(3), 307-323. https://doi.org/10.1080/19331681.2019.1646181
  • Johnson, K. A., & St. John III, B. (2020). News stories on the Facebook platform: Millennials’ perceived credibility of online news sponsored by news and non-news companies. Journalism Practice, 14(6), 749-767. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2019.1637272
  • Kamil, M., & Rathaur, M. (2020). COVID-19: An analysis of selected cases of erroneous media coverage. UGC CARE Journal, 31(30), 34-45.
  • Kyriakidou, M., Morani, M., Soo, N., & Cushion, S. (2020). Government and media misinformation about COVID-19 is confusing the public. LSE COVID-19 blog. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/covid19/2020/05/07/government-and-media-misinformation-about-covid-19-is-confusing-the-public/
  • Limaye, R. J., Sauer, M., Ali, J., Bernstein, J., Wahl, B., Barnhill, A., & Labrique, A. (2020). Building trust while influencing online COVID-19 content in the social media world. The Lancet Digital Health, 2(6), e277-e278. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(20)30084-4
  • Mansell, R., & Ang, P. H. (2015). The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society, 3 Volume Set. John Wiley & Sons. https://doi.org/10.1108/RR-12-2015-0292
  • Manzoor, S., & Safdar, A. (2020). Cultivation of fear through media: Analysis to reveal relationship between perception about COVID-19 and socio-economic background of media consumers. Review of Economics and Development Studies, 6(2), 217-228. https://doi.org/10.47067/reads.v6i2.198
  • Newman, N., Fletcher, R., Schulz, A., Andi, S., & Nielsen, R. K. (2020). Reuters Institute digital news report 2021. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
  • Nguyen, H., & Nguyen, A. (2020). COVID-19 misinformation and the social (media) amplification of risk: A Vietnamese perspective. Media and Communication, 8(2), 444-447. https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v8i2.3227
  • Ouedraogo, N. (2020). Social media literacy in crisis context: Fake news consumption during COVID-19 lockdown. SSRN, 186. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3601466
  • Reporters Without Borders (2020). 2020 World Press Freedom Index: “Entering a decisive decade for journalism, exacerbated by coronavirus.” (2020, April 19). https://rsf.org/en/2020-world-press-freedom-index-entering-decisive-decade-journalism-exacerbated-coronavirus
  • Rommer, D., Majerova, J., & Machova, V. (2020). Repeated COVID-19 pandemic-related media consumption: Minimizing sharing of nonsensical misinformation through health literacy and critical thinking. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations, 19, 107-113. https://doi.org/10.22381/LPI1920207
  • Scarborough, B. K., Like-Haislip, T. Z., Novak, K. J., Lucas, W. L., & Alarid, L. F. (2010). Assessing the relationship between individual characteristics, neighborhood context, and fear of crime. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(4), 819–826. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2010.05.010
  • Schmidt, A. L. (2018). A quantitative analysis of news consumption on Facebook. http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/254/1/Schmidt_phdthesis.pdf
  • Sloan, M. M., Haner, M., Graham, A., Cullen, F. T., Pickett, J. T., & Jonson, C. L. (2021). Pandemic emotions: The extent, correlates, and mental health consequences of fear of COVID-19. Sociological Spectrum, 41(5), 369-386. https://doi.org/10.1080/02732173.2021.1926380
  • Sood, S. (2020). Psychological effects of the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic. Research & Humanities in Medical Education, 7, 23-26.
  • Sveningsson, M. (2015). “It’s only a pastime, really”: Young people’s experiences of social media as a source of news about public affairs. Social Media + Society, 1(2), 205630511560485. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305115604855
  • Tang, G., & Lee, F. L. (2013). Facebook use and political participation: The impact of exposure to shared political information, connections with public political actors, and network structural heterogeneity. Social Science Computer Review, 31(6), 763-773. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894439313490625
  • Vraga, E. K., Anderson, A. A., Kotcher, J. E., & Maibach, E. W. (2015). Issue-specific engagement: How Facebook contributes to opinion leadership and efficacy on energy and climate issues. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 12(2), 200-218. https://doi.org/10.1080/19331681.2015.1034910
  • Vraga, E. K., Tully, M., & Bode, L. (2020). Empowering users to respond to misinformation about COVID-19. Media and Communication, 8(2), 475-479. https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v8i2.3200
  • World Health Organization (2020). Infodemic (2020, December 22). https://www.who.int/health-topics/infodemic