Social Media and Large Carnivores : Sharing Biased News on Attacks on Humans

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/318063

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Nanni , V , Caprio , E , Bombieri , G , Schiaparelli , S , Chiorri , C , Mammola , S , Pedrini , P & Penteriani , V 2020 , ' Social Media and Large Carnivores : Sharing Biased News on Attacks on Humans ' , Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution , vol. 8 , 71 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2020.00071

Title: Social Media and Large Carnivores : Sharing Biased News on Attacks on Humans
Author: Nanni, Veronica; Caprio, Enrico; Bombieri, Giulia; Schiaparelli, Stefano; Chiorri, Carlo; Mammola, Stefano; Pedrini, Paolo; Penteriani, Vincenzo
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Zoology
Date: 2020-03-24
Language: eng
Number of pages: 10
Belongs to series: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
ISSN: 2296-701X
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/318063
Abstract: The Internet and social media have profoundly changed the way the public receives and transmits news. The ability of the web to quickly disperse information both geographically and temporally allows social media to reach a much wider audience compared to traditional mass media. A powerful role is played by sharing, as millions of people routinely share news on social media platforms, influencing each other by transmitting their mood and feelings to others through emotional contagion. Thus, social media has become crucial in driving public perception and opinion. Humans have an instinctive fear of large carnivores, but such a negative attitude may be amplified by news media presentations and their diffusion on social media. Here, we investigated how reports of predator attacks on humans published in online newspapers spread on social media. By means of multi-model inference, we explored the contribution of four factors in driving the number of total shares (NTS) of news reports on social media: the graphic/sensationalistic content, the presence of images, the species, as well as the newspaper coverage. According to our results, the information delivered by social media is highly biased toward a graphic/sensationalistic view of predators. Thus, such negative coverage might lead to an unjustified and amplified fear in the public with consequent lower tolerance toward predators and decrease in the support for conservation plans. However, because social media represents a powerful communication tool, its role might be reversed to positive if used appropriately. Thus, constant engagement of scientists on social media would be needed to both disseminate more accurate information on large carnivores and stem the tide of misinformation before its widespread diffusion, a crucial step for effective predator conservation.
Subject: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
emotional contagion
human-wildlife conflict
media reports
attacks on humans
Twitter
Facebook
sensationalism
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