Tweeting is believing? Understanding microblog credibility perceptions

22 March 2012

Twitter is now used to distribute substantive content such as breaking news, increasing the importance of assessing the credibility of tweets.

As users increasingly access tweets through search, they have less information on which to base credibility judgments as compared to consuming content from direct social network connections. We present survey results regarding users’ perceptions of tweet credibility. We find a disparity between features users consider relevant to credibility assessment and those currently revealed by search engines.

We then conducted two experiments in which we systematically manipulated several features of tweets to assess their impact on credibility ratings. We show that users are poor judges of truthfulness based on content alone, and instead are influenced by heuristics such as user name when making credibility assessments. Based on these findings, we discuss strategies tweet authors can use to enhance their credibility with readers (and strategies astute readers should be aware of!). We propose design improvements for displaying social search results so as to better convey credibility.

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