Network Informational Complexity, Epistemic Political Efficacy, and Fact-Checking
This study used three surveys to assess the role of information network complexity in the use of fact-checking tools. The overarching contention was that those exposed to conflicting political information (i.e., are part of informationally complex discussion networks) are more likely to access fact-checking websites. The rationale underlying this prediction was that exposure to conflicting information produces epistemic uncertainty, which, for some, can be addressed via the use of fact-checking websites. It was further suggested that those high in epistemic political efficacy (EPE) might be especially inclined to use fact-checking websites. The results indicated that those with complex online information networks were more likely to report engaging with fact-checking tools. Therein, the data suggested that EPE was positively related to fact-checking tool use but did not condition the relationship between online network complexity and involvement with fact-checks. Further analyses indicated that fact-checking consumption is positively associated with fact-check sharing.