CUTS is undertaking this one-year study, to analyse and compare how platform users in India, Kenya and Ghana engage with incorrect, sensational, provocative, divisive, hateful, and misleading information (problematic content), to better understand factors influencing such engagement. These factors may relate to difference in users’ ethnographic, cultural and political scenarios, geographic location, demographic profile, economic condition, experience of using the internet, psychological and cognitive variables, extent and duration of exposure to problematic content etc.
In order to understand perspectives of users on their exposure and subsequent reaction to problematic content, their responses will be sought on parameters like awareness, perception, experience, expectation, trust, reaction, capacity, verification etc. of (problematic) content consumed/spread on social media platforms.
Taking a bottom-up approach, a mixed method of primary research would be adopted, through deploying interactive, observational and human centred techniques for on-ground user engagement, with a statistically appropriate sample size in the project countries. Tools such as surveys (Impersonal user perspective study), focus group discussions (In-person simulation exercises and laboratory study), and in depth-interviews would be used for gauging perception and perspectives of different user groups to devise targeted factor-specific intervention plan to help users avoid problematic experiences.
The study will enable us to understand the rationale behind different kinds of users inadvertent contribution (reposting, forwarding, believing, reacting) in the spread of problematic content, which will help in recommending practices for users on how to consciously avoid the spread of problematic content on social media platforms in India, Kenya and Ghana.