Infodemics, Young Consumers and Responsible Stakeholdership
Infodemics, Young Consumers and Responsible Stakeholdership
Special Issue Call for Papers from Young Consumers
Hiram Ting (Email: [email protected])
Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management, UCSI University, Malaysia
Department of Leisure and Recreation Management, Ming Chuan University, Taiwan
Jun-Hwa Cheah (Email: [email protected])School of Business and Economics, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia
Zhilin Yang (Email: [email protected])
Department of Marketing, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
SiQi Wang (Email: [email protected])
School of Business and Economics, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia
Kara Chan (Email: [email protected])
School of Communication and Film, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
Despite its usefulness, social media have caused a rapid spread of false information in the society. It is found that people are more likely to retweet or share falsehoods than the truth online (Vosoughi et al., 2018). Such phenomena become more evident and serious during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization (WHO) remarked that, “We are not just fighting a pandemic; we are fighting an infodemic” (Zarocostas, 2020). The term infodemic is described as “an overabundance of information—some accurate and some not—that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it” (World Health Organization, 2020). It can contain and disseminate fake news and misleading information during health emergencies (United Nations, 2020). Hence, the pandemic has led to infodemics directly and indirectly where information from copious sources and of varying contents is spread through social media incessantly around the world (Lanius et al., 2021).
Recent literature shows that infodemic often contains misinformation, disinformation, exaggerated claims and unverified rumours (Jakovljevic et al., 2020) and it can affect individuals’ behaviour, physical and psychological well-being, including young consumers (Generation Z). It can cause a person to be anxious, fearful, suspicious, xenophobic, or even psychotic. For example, due to the spread of fake news, healthcare workers are seen as contagious when and after handling the victims and are thus rejected by their landlords or neighbours (Islam et al., 2020). International students, one of the country's main instruments of soft diplomacy, face uncertainties, such as the cancellation of visa appointments, and the sudden suspension of classes (Pomerantz, 2020). As a result, they become vulnerable to unstable emotions, including the feeling of prejudice, unfairness, and being discriminated (Hardinges, 2020; Mugambi, 2020).
Infodemics do not just affect the decision-making and wellbeing of young consumers, but also result in social unrest and societal disruptions. Inaccurate medical advice, be it with good or malicious intent, premature difussion and hasty sharing of information about lockdown are some of the examples that cause panic buying and other excessive behaviours in a collective manner (Shahi, Dirkson & Majchrzak, 2021). Daily items such as masks, hand sanitisers and toilet papers are in want at some stage due to compulsive purchase and looting (World Health Organization, 2020). Another worrying consequence of infodemics surrounding the COVID-19 is vaccine hesitancy and resistance (Elisa Clemente, 2021). On Twitter, anti-vaccine contents often generate more engagement than pro-vaccine messages (Puri et al., 2020). It thus frustrates the delivery and administering of vaccines not only to pessimistics but also to young consumers.
Governments are upping their efforts to ensure that diverse communities have the resources and skills necessary to access, understand and critically evaluate information, especially in relation to the physical and psychological well-being. Scientists and healthcare professionals have also provided public health news, and engaged local communities and institutions to debunk misleading information. Besides social media companies have developed guidelines and protocols to enforce regulatory standards by developing algorithms to detect fake news (Elisa Clemente, 2021). Unfortunately, all these initiatives by different stakeholders are insufficient to curb the spread and the manner the information is handled because of the lack of awareness and cohesive actions (Hodgkins et al., 2019). Notably, effective management of infodemics can only be achieved and administered through the joint efforts of broad stakeholder and global community (World Health Organization, 2020) through a strong sense of responsibility (Cheer et al., 2021; Ting et al., 2021).
Although the danger of rumours, misinformation, and disinformation is an issue of global concern, past research has mainly looked into it from the perspectives of political science and journalism (Fedeli, 2019). As such, much attention is given to fake news detection and dissemination channels (Di Domenico et al., 2021). This will be characterised by growth and expansion in the use of behavioural theory. For example, Cognitive Load Theory (Sweller, 2011) can explain research in human online behaviour to understand the unverified information shared online by young consumers. The Hierarchy of Effects Theory (Petty & Cacioppo, 1984) and Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1985) also provide a basis for drawing on this research topic. The lack of research on infodemics (i.e. an overabundance of information) and its impact on young consumers’ decision-making, behaviour and well-being as well as the relevance of societal welfare and responsible stakeholdership in the face of the pandemic thus offers the opportunity for marketing and social science scholars to advance the relevant knowledge in theory and practice (Ting et al., 2020). Therefore, we wish to contribute to the scholarship of social marketing with the call for papers for this special issue with the following topics:
- The impact of infodemics on the behaviour, physical, and psychological well-being of young consumers as well as the implications of internal and/or external factors.
- The manner by which social marketing interventions help young consumers overcome anxiety, fear, and extreme behaviour when they are exposed to infodemics.
- The impact of infodemics on familial, organizational, and societal well-being and the needed actions in response.
- The (potential) threat of misinformation, disinformation, and rumours spread by young consumers through social media to public health and the ways to overcome.
- The effect of the intentional, unintentional or deliberate spread of infodemics on (dis)trust and various behavioural responses towards health institutions, organisations, and governments.
- Strategies or measures organisations and regulators use to design interventions that can detect, monitor, and prevent the spreading of misleading information.
- Responsible consumerism among young consumers in the face of infodemics, such as verification process and sharing behaviours, during the pandemic crisis and the economic recovery.
- The responsibility of stakeholders (e.g., who they are and what they should do) in the development and implementation of effective management of infodemics with regard to young consumers during and after the pandemic.
- The roles and relevance of social marketing plans and techniques in enabling young consumers to comply with health directives in the face of infodemics.
- The challenges and prospects of information processing, sharing and verification system on the digital platforms in improving young consumers’ decision-making, health and well-being in the long run through the lens of Sustainable Development Goals.
Note: Young consumers refer to Generation Z who are in their early 20s and late adolescenece.
Types of Papers:
- Conceptual papers using meta-analysis, systematic literature review or narrative review.
- Research papers using a quantitative, qualitative or mixed-methods approach which make a contribution to knowledge and practice. Cross-sectional studies are welcome although papers using experimental or longitudinal design are preferred.
- Exceptional technical papers and case study which evaluate technical processes and actual interventions in a particular context may be considered.
- We strongly encourage the researchers and academics to work with relevant professionals and policy makers to make contribution to this Special Issue.
- All the papers will be subject to the journal’s standard double-blind review procedure after a preliminary screening by the guest editors. A maximum of eight (8) papers will be published in this special issue. Papers not accepted for the special issue may be considered for publication in a regular issue.
Submissions to this journal are through the ScholarOne submission system here:
Please visit the author guidelines for the journal at:
Please ensure you select this special issue from the relevant drop-down menu on page four of the submission process.
Submission Deadline: 30 June 2022
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