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Pandemic Nationalism: Use of Government Social Media for Political Information and Belief in COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories in China
The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a torrent of conspiracy theories across different social media platforms. Parallel to this conspiracy wave was a heightened sense of nationalism, which manifested through both in-group solidarity and perceived out-group threats. In this study, we examine how individuals’ use of government social media to gather political information correlated with nation-related conspiracy beliefs during the pandemic. Data were collected from 745 subjects in China and analyzed through path analyses, which allowed us to examine the direct association with political information consumption from government social media and the indirect association with nationalism on conspiracy beliefs. The results indicated that the use of government social media to gather political information was associated with greater beliefs in nation-variant COVID-19 conspiracies, both directly and through different mediations of nationalism. Our findings highlight the importance of examining government social media use and how nationalism can have differentiated mediation effects on beliefs in conspiracy theories.
Journal/Conference/Book titleThe International Journal of Press/Politics