Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 38 Number 4 2021 pp. 1011-1038

Cure or Poison? Identity Verification and the Posting of Fake News on Social Media

Wang, Shuting (Ada), Pang, Min-Seok, and Pavlou, Paul A


The proliferation of fake news on social media has become a major societal and political problem. Meanwhile, social media platforms have started to require identity verification from users and label the verified users with a verification badge, making users more responsible for their online behavior. In this study, we empirically investigate two research questions: 1) What is the impact of identity verification on users’ propensity to post fake news? and 2) How does a verification badge moderate the impact of identity verification? Results suggest that while identity verification without a verification badge has a negative impact on users’ posting of fake news, this impact is significantly weakened when users are granted a verification badge after identity verification. Given the criticisms on identity verification policies, these findings underscore both the potential upsides and risks for social media platforms seeking to combat fake news through identity verification techniques.

Key words and phrases: Fake news, online identity verification, badges, online status disclosure, online anonymity, online misinformation