False information on the Internet spreads more easily and quickly than accurate information because it usually does not require much knowledge to become aware of it. Creating fakes and misinforming the audience is relatively easy, creating panic in the community or lobby. If done well, fake messages are hard to distinguish from real ones, and many people take them at face value. The question arises as to why people spread such messages and whether there are factors that stimulate this process. Buchanan’s article brings credibility to the information by providing an in-depth analysis of why fake information spreads.
The Author’s Persuasiveness
The essay’s author is Tom Buchanan, who is social science researcher at a university in London. He has a degree in philosophy, which is vital for the analysis of the essay. It can guarantee additional credibility, as those with degrees go through a long study process and know how to work with different information. Buchanan appeals to an audience willing to learn or already knows how to process information and look for truth in it. The article is needed for people trying to figure out why there is so much fake information. The paper was written in 2020: the premise was the prevalence of false information about the pandemic.
As part of the paper, Buchanan researches three variables that potentially influence the spread of misinformation. These included the influence of message attributes, viewer characteristics, and interaction. Buchanan claims that people disseminate information based on heuristics: this process is spontaneous and fast (Buchanan 3). He points out that this leads to disseminated information without reflection and analysis. Buchanan conducts four studies to support his claim based on the consistency, consensus, and authority of potentially false information.
Having modeled studies that do not involve complex language is credible to the reader because they see a clear and understandable demonstration of the process. Buchanan makes a statement about which people are spreading false information and how, so the reader looks for these signs in himself (4). If he does not find them, the information in the article is more likely to be perceived positively by him.
Buchanan makes four hypotheses for each element of the probability of spreading false information as part of the research. Buchanan believes that the main reasons for spreading are the degree of trust in the information and alignment with personal beliefs (28). The results of simulated studies with statistical calculations support part of the argument. Buchanan emphasizes his point based on statistics; the article is persuasive and effectively communicates his position to the reader (9-10). He clarifies the characteristics of personality traits that influence the transmission of fakes. The reader understands which elements of personality occur more often than others and unconsciously evaluates oneself. The article positively affects the reader, pushing him to solve the problem about which it tells.
Based on the analysis of the essay, it can be concluded that Buchanan, Tom is well-versed in information, provides references to sources, and gives complete work results. Trust is born due to his education and simple language that bribes the reader to dig in and try the text. Nevertheless, the results of the essay raise additional questions, which may encourage the reader to seek further information. Buchanan probably should have added more connection to real-world phenomena familiar to the audience. Adding examples of knowingly false information and its dissemination would have made the article more persuasive.
Buchanan, Tom. “Why do people spread false information online? The effects of message and viewer characteristics on the self-reported likelihood of sharing social media disinformation.” PloS one, vol. 15, 2020.