Testing Users’ Ability to Recognize Fake News in Three Countries. An Experimental Perspective
Fake news dissemination online can negatively affect public deliberation and opinion formation as well as contribute to conflicts in society. In recent years, the spread of misinformation has attracted ample attention of scholars who examine why people believe fake news. Nonetheless, existing research focusing on this phenomenon often lacks comparative perspective. This article is devoted to the methodological aspects of designing a cross-national online experiment on fake news perception. Based on our recent study, which tested the influence of news frames, sources and thinking styles on the ability to recognize fake news about foreign countries in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, we provide a set of methodological steps that could be taken to design such an experiment. In particular, we demonstrate the necessity to create unique sets of stimulus material adjusted to specific national media systems. We also discuss the operationalization of complex variables (i.e. frames) and format of message presentation. Furthermore, we report the results of recruitment of participants through the ad campaigns on social network sites (Facebook and VKontakte) and suggest the approaches to creating samples representative of these platforms’ populations. This article is aimed to be a methodological toolkit, which points at the challenges that may occur while designing a cross-national experiment on media consumption—and provides practical recommendations to overcome them.