Perceived Credibility of Tweets by Opinion Leaders During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Spain
The informational practices of citizens, transformed by the digital sphere, pose new challenges such as misinformation and disinformation, and they also require a rethinking of the role of opinion leaders. We explored how, on Twitter, the credibility of COVID-19 news was influenced by the source of the news. We conducted a survey of a representative sample of the Spanish population (N = 2,041) who were asked to rate politician, expert, celebrity, media, and anonymous citizen tweets for credibility. The results show that the perceived credibility of tweets on COVID-19 by politicians and experts was negative and positive, respectively, when compared with tweets by the media, and also that celebrities and anonymous citizens had no impact on perceptions of credibility. We also found that news credibility was affected by respondent gender, age, occupational status, and education level. We conclude that, despite disintermediation processes, the media continue to underpin news credibility in the digital public sphere.