Political Rumor Communication on Instant Messaging Platforms: Relationships With Political Participation and Knowledge

Nojin Kwak, Daniel S. Lane, Qinfeng Zhu, Slgi S. Lee, Brian E. Weeks


Modern communication technologies have vastly increased the reach and influence of political rumors, with negative consequences for democratic political systems globally. Rumor communication can be theorized as a form of political talk that helps citizens grapple with the uncertainty inherent in politics, form opinions, and build solidarity with others. The present study examines how one type of communication technology—instant messaging platforms—might facilitate forms of rumor communication that can influence participation in and knowledge about politics. Using original panel survey data from the 2017 South Korean election, we find that rumor communication on the popular instant messaging platform KakaoTalk predicts increased campaign participation, but not campaign knowledge. Further, political rumor communication on instant messaging platforms appears to exacerbate participatory inequality between those with weak and those with strong political interest and ideology.


political rumors, political participation, political knowledge, instant messaging, KakaoTalk, South Korea

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