Scrolling Past Public Health Campaigns: Information Context Collapse on Social Media and Its Effects on Tobacco Information Recall

George D. H. Pearson, Joseph N. Cappella


Although traditional media usually present content separated by topic, social media feeds are usually unsorted, shifting topics from post to post, a feature called “information context collapse.” Public health groups have often failed to consider how the presentation context of their campaigns may influence message reception. This study uses a mock social media feed that presents content across six topics in a sorted or unsorted fashion to see how presentation order of content influences recall of information about a novel tobacco product. The moderating impact of topic relevance and source congruency are also tested. Results show that for some measures of recall unsorted presentation reduced recall. Impacts of source congruency and topic relevance are reduced when the content is unsorted. The application of these findings for both scholarship and digital health campaigns is discussed.


digital media, health communication, tobacco, recall, social media

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