Crisis Information Vetting in Social-Mediated Crisis and Risk Communication: A Conceptual Framework
Abstract: The proliferation of news sources and user-generated content, which is flooded by misinformation (Southwell, Thorson, & Sheble, 2018), present an urgent need for research that investigates audiences’ information consumption behavior in current media environment. In the past decade, one of the key tasks for crisis and risk scholars was to study the “social mediated dialogue between organization and its publics” (Fearn-Banks, 2002). By identifying crisis information flow online and offline across three key publics, the social-mediated crisis communication (SMCC) model has examined the role of crisis information form, content, and source in how publics cope with crises cognitively, affectively, and behaviorally (e.g., Jin & Liu, 2010; Austin, Liu & Jin, 2012). Although where and how publics seek and share crisis information have been studied extensively by SMCC scholars (Liu, Fraustino, & Jin, 2015, 2016; Zhao, Zhan, & Liu, 2018; Zhu, Anagondahalli, & Zhang, 2017), little is known about whether and why (not) influential social media creators and followers verify the accuracy of the crisis information received before their enactment of further information seeking and sharing activities. Therefore, we call for a SMCC model update, adding information vetting as one key component of crisis coping, grounded primarily in dual process model and meta-cognition.