Defense Date

2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Gina Longo

Abstract

Online misinformation has become a growing concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous studies addressing online misinformation describe how social media facilitates the spread of misinformation. Little research is conducted that details the actors on social media that combat misinformation. This study addresses this gap by examining content that was removed by moderators and comparing it to content that was well received within the same virtual community. This paper aims to investigate how misinformation is combatted in a specific Reddit community dedicated to COVID-19 (r/Coronavirus) by exploring the actions of volunteer moderators and users. Content that is deemed as misinformation by the moderators of the subreddit /r/Coronavirus has been scraped for analysis. The top 1000 posts from the subreddit have been scraped for comparison to illuminate the role of volunteer moderators as “gatekeepers” of acceptable content within an online community. Patterns of political bias are the focus of analysis due to the politicization of misinformation. This research conducts a content analysis of the top 1000 posts and posts that have been removed by moderators, along with their stated justifications, in order to identify trends in their decisions.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

5-12-2022

Available for download on Tuesday, May 11, 2027

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