Understanding the role of new media literacy in the diffusion of unverified information during the COVID-19 pandemic
New media literacy (NML) is an emerging construct of great value in a digital age in which information overload threatens the well-being of society. Among the scarcity of available research going beyond a theoretical conceptualization of NML and using structural equational modeling, we explored the influence of NML on media trust, perception of fake news, and fact-checking motivation that underlie the dissemination of unverified information during the COVID-19 pandemic. Challenging the assertion of NML's absolute effect on mitigating the problem of fake news communication, the components of NML were shown to contribute to the transmission of unverified information among citizens unless the risk of fake news was well understood. The findings suggest that further research is required to fully understand the scope of NML in designing public education, and that the problem of fake news spread may be a social phenomenon that digitalized society must embrace.
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