Too good to be true, too good not to share: the social utility of fake news

Andrew Duffy, Edson Tandoc, Rich Ling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


While fake news has been widely reviled as an attack on democracy, less has been written about its threat to interpersonal relationships. Social networks have become increasingly popular for sharing news and as a result have also offered fertile ground for the spread of fake news. This paper considers the impact of the latter on the former, particularly in circumstances where the sharer either does not know or does not suspect that the news they are sharing is fake. This distinction is important because while sharing information and news may be construed as a social good, sharing news that turns out to be fake might negatively impact relationships. How do people react when the news they have shared with the intention of fostering social cohesion turns out to be fake, and as a result damages that cohesion? Based on 12 focus groups, this study examines how social media users react to fake news and how it affects interpersonal relationships between sender and receiver.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1965-1979
Number of pages15
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Fake news
  • interpersonal relationships
  • news sharing
  • online news
  • social media
  • social network


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