Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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With information and communication technologies’ rapid development, gradually increased have been both the number of social media users and people receiving information via various social media platforms. There was plenty of misinformation that runs alongside may have harmful effects on individuals' well-being. More importantly, the middle-aged and elderly people might serve as unintentional accomplices in spreading misinformation. To deal with these issues, more understandings should be garnered about the nature of both middle-aged and elderly users’ information sharing behavior via social media. This study examined users’ motivations through a survey questionnaire, and a total of 268 valid responses were obtained. The findings showed that the users’ motivations were various and rooted from three major factors: 1) Social Interaction; 2) Knowledge Sharing; 3) Information Exchange. Although users have certain abilities to judge the authenticity of online information, users with lower educational levels were more likely to share information due to the need for social interaction and the authenticity might not be the main concern for them. This study suggests that to curb the spread of misinformation around the social communities of aged people, verification channels from authorities are vital but rather insufficient at times. Thus, the information literacy education should be strengthened proactively and at least include three learning indicators: 1) the basic skills of social media tools; 2) the strategies of credibility assessment; 3) the netiquette of social communities.