Trust Online: Young Adults' Evaluation of Web Content

Eszter Hargittai, Lindsay Fullerton, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, Kristin Yates Thomas


Little of the work on online credibility assessment has considered how the information-seeking process figures into the final evaluation of content people encounter. Using unique data about how a diverse group of young adults looks for and evaluates Web content, our paper makes contributions to existing literature by highlighting factors beyond site features in how users assess credibility. We find that the process by which users arrive at a site is an important component of how they judge the final destination. In particular, search context, branding and routines, and a reliance on those in one’s networks play important roles in online information-seeking and evaluation. We also discuss that users differ considerably in their skills when it comes to judging online content credibility.

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