Facebook credibility: Evidence from Online
and Offline Political Participation, Political
Contribution, and Platform Efficacy
Mohamed A. Fadl Elhadidi*
Assistant professor of Journalism,
Department of Mass Communication,
Faculty of arts, Damietta University,
- *Corresponding Author:
- Mohamed A. Fadl Elhadidi
Assistant professor of Journalism
Department of Mass Communication
Faculty of arts, Damietta University, Egypt
Received date: April 08, 2019; Accepted date: April 25, 2019; Published date: May 03, 2019
Citation: Elhadidi MAF. Facebook credibility:
Evidence from Online and Offline Political
Participation, Political Contribution, and
Platform Efficacy. Global Media Journal 2019, 17:32.
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This study seeks to explore how Egyptian adult users assess Facebook credibility and to test political and non-political factors that predict such credibility, using survey data (N=590). Exploratory factor analysis generated four categories of 16 attributes of Facebook credibility; timeliness, transparency, social impact, and independency. Findings show that both the use of political content of Facebook and reliance on it for political information were limited predictors of some categories of Facebook credibility. In addition, users' evaluation of Facebook as an independent medium was only conditioned to their online political participation. On the other hand, users' views on both the efficacy of Facebook and its positive contribution to the community in addition to their active participation of political content on that platform were strong predictors for the four categories of Facebook credibility. Findings also deliberated the underlying causes of predicting demographic variables for some kinds of Facebook credibility.
Facebook credibility; Interactivity: Political participation; Media efficacy;
Media dependency; Political contribution
Facebook (FB) which became the most widely used social network
site in the world  is now the most popular one in Egypt that
37 million Egyptians access FB every month with over 22 million
or 59% of monthly active people return every day . This is a
high percentage compared to the number of users of the rest of
social media in Egypt, as Instagram is becoming the 2nd popular
social network for Egyptians with 2.7 million while the average
for active Twitter users in Egypt accounts for 1.7 million . These
data indicate the growing role that FB can play politically, socially,
economically, and humanly, because it attracts large segments
of society, requiring its users to investigate the credibility and
proper planning of information and news exchange. FB has
official accounts that broadcast real news, as well as accounts
of well-known businesses that are interested in spreading their
products to their audiences and potential consumers. There are
also individuals and public figures who recognize the importance
of credibility in publishing content through FB and other social
media sites. However, there are many actors on this platform
who lack the professional foundation and are focusing on the
sensational news which lack original and reliable sources to win
more followers. Such uncertainty aspects affect the credibility of
FB at times of the emergence and circulation of important events
in community contexts. The management of FB and other social media individually is a complicated issue because of its greater
freedom, and it reflects the user's point of view and individual
credibility. This freedom may give credibility to FB more than
traditional media, which may be directed by authorities or interest
groups, but it remains the questions about the extent of social
responsibility and the credibility resulting from that freedom.
Also, when touching upon the digital democracy, questions are
raised about the feasibility of FB in the political movement, either
through the political activity of users on this platform or through
their political activity outside of it, resulting from their belief in
the credibility of Facebook.
Looking at the pivotal role of FB for communities and users, FB
can be an ideal tool for exceeding government media barriers,
especially in less fortunate societies in democracy. In addition,
FB can contribute positively to social mobility in its various forms.
But FB users are often exposed to deceptive operations of fake
and false news which are anonymous and unreliable. This leads to
FB being a fertile breeding ground for rumors and misinformation
and thus spreading the hypnotic awareness. Since FB as a social
medium contains abundant political messages , this type of serious topics may create political confusion, especially if they
contain misinformation or unknowing sources. Therefore, it
is important to identify how users are evaluating Facebook's
credibility when tackling political topics and discussions.
While there were rare studies about media credibility in Arab
world including Egypt, some of them have focused on the
relationship between the viewership or listening to regional or
international media such as Radio and Television and public trust
in the information provided by this kind of media [5,6] and another
study has focused on the comparison of public assessment of
credibility in television, radio, newspapers, and Internet including
online newspapers and social media . Hence, the current
study attempts to explore the public assessment of FB credibility,
which has become the most widely used in Egypt through which
political information is circulated. Also, while previous research
concerned the study of the credibility of social media and blogs or
the impact of their usage on the political awareness and political
participation, the question as to what factors influence the FB
credibility when related to political arena still remains unclear.
Therefore, the current study is not only aimed at exploring
elements of FB credibility but testing the factors predicting it
including political elements.
Through many mass communication research to study the
credibility of different types of media (audio, video, print and
electronic), some define credibility that "it refers to the objective
and subjective components of the believability of a source or
message"  (pg: 156). The credibility of social media is more
complex when compared to that of traditional media. This is due
to the information revolution and the flow of news on social media
and new media platforms faster and diversifying their sources,
which creates a state of uncertainty about this engagement and
confusion about the adoption of the credibility of that flood of
information besides casting doubt on them.
Under previous research on the credibility of old and new media,
I can discuss FB credibility in three dimensions: source, medium,
and content/ message credibility [9-12].
The traditional evaluations of source credibility when, for example,
are related to representatives of the government or to expertise
would be believed to provide reliable information especially
when there is a limited number of sources accompanied by the
presence of gatekeepers who filter much of information and have
the incentive to uphold credibility standards . The dependency
of traditional media to authorities or other institutions as sources
of information and news leads to the adoption of classical idea
associated with the criterion of credibility when followed by the
scarcity of information. In the social media environment, there
is an independence of the source which is often the user himself
who takes an individual behavior of posting and sharing of
information. In addition, the source’s perceived communication
characteristics such as competence, credibility, and attractiveness
can be made by the users themselves . As in Twitter, for
instance, the source is the person who posts the content [15-17] and the trustworthiness and merit of tweeted information are
determined when the source credibility is taken into account.
Also, the more explicit author information available on Twitter
leads users to be more trusting . FB source can post text,
video, a picture, or avatar of the poster/sender and their name.
As the post includes comments, likes, and shares they will be
sources of a new information set. This property to connect users
to one another via FB gives the opportunity to determine the
credibility of information and undermine traditional authorities.
Overall, FB source credibility can be considered in two main
perspectives. The first is related to information and news from
news organizations or official organizations that are posted or
shared via FB. The prevailing with regard to social media is that
users tend to trust organizations when they perceive a greater level
of interactivity in social media . A previous study has shown that
peripheral characteristics of FB news posts may not necessarily serve
as strong credibility cues but participants rated higher the credibility
of a journalist vs. that of the news brand or the expertise cue 
while another study found that two-fifths of social networking users
receive news from people they follow on services like FB and a fifth
get news from news organizations and individual journalists they
follow . The other perspective is related to the user-generated
content that the user is the source of the message. This kind of
sources is viewed with skepticism because sometimes readers do
not consider it as a reliable source of information  but there are
some factors elaborate the user to be a more credible source when
he is perceived to have too many friends  or when his posts get
more likes, shares, and comments .
This dimension refers to the assessment of credibility that users
have of FB as one of the social media sites. It is worthwhile to
differentiate between the user who posts or shares the content
and FB as a medium. In addition, the impact of FB messages will
depend on it as a medium because when individuals have more
experience with gaining knowledge through FB, they will develop
more trust in the medium  (pg: 43).
It should not be limited to measure social media credibility on their
design features because FB pages have almost the same layouts.
Lee and Ahn  indicated that when users get the gratification
of using FB as a new medium they will asses it more credible.
Then, credibility judgments will be based on user's perception of
FB itself such as authenticity, timeliness, and popularity  or
the judgments grounded on medium dependency, interactivity,
and medium transparency . In addition, FB affords some
direct application of credibility due to the self-selective nature
because users of the platform only get content from self-selected
sources or those selected by algorithms to match their selfselected
preferences  (pg: 6).
FB as a medium to promote a specific social cause was tested
in the study by Lee and Ahn  who found that when students
trusted FB, they were more likely to participate in the binge
drinking prevention FB page.
This dimension states the perceived credibility of the loaded message on the FB platform. Messages via FB are often repeated
by multiple sources (reposting or resharing), leading to user
confusion about the source of the content. This source confusion
leads users to be unaware of the original source of the information
and highlights the need to examine perceptions of the message
credibility, regardless of the source or medium of transmission
. Giving news feeding via social media, Domingo et al., 
found that because social media feed is a self-curated collection
of content; the users tend more to engage with information
when it comes to them via social media. Users' actions of liking or
sharing news posts on FB are key indicators of their engagement
with the content and determining it credible [21,24]. With the
tremendous accumulation of information generated by users 
it is important to know how readers assess FB content that Keib
and Wojdynski  found that "users' willingness to like, share or
click through to a story are critical actions to the person or brand
who posted the content" (pg: 16).
FB lacks quality assurance mechanisms and offers unfiltered
information with different levels of quality as a result of the
existence of diverse and open sources , Some previous
studies have explored factors influencing FB content credibility,
for example, Li and Suh , found that interactivity, medium
dependency, and argument strength were the main dimensions
of information credibility via FB. Another study in advertising on
FB found that interactivity, advertising avoidance, and privacy
were the key factors which influenced consumers’ attitudes
towards advertising on FB, while credibility was not a significant
factor predicting consumer’ attitudes towards advertising on FB
Methodology and Hypotheses
A survey method was conducted to collect data within a
questionnaire on a sample of adults in Egypt. The questionnaire
was evaluated by academics in the Egyptian universities' media
departments to measure its validity and then improve its
structure and content.
Sample: The interviews were conducted during October 2018
with 590 adults (18 years of age and older) who lived in Egypt and
who used the Facebook platform. A simple random sample was
used on the basis that each of the members of the community
was given an equal opportunity to be selected within the
sample. Trained interviewers conducted face-to-face interviews
in two different geographical areas in Egypt; Greater Cairo
which represents urban regions as it is the capital of Egypt and
embraces three big governorates (Cairo, Giza, and Qaliubiya),
and Damietta which represents a regional governorate and it also
includes rural areas. Differences in socioeconomic status among
the respondents were considered by conducting the interviews
in three levels of neighborhoods in each governorate. All nonusers,
refusals, incomplete answers, partial answers, and missing
answers were excluded to get the final sample which had 590
complete answers (See demographic variables).
Variables and Measurements
The questionnaire items included dependent and independent
variables as follows:
The questionnaire measured one main dependent variable
associated with the respondents' assessments of FB credibility:
Facebook credibility: In this study, I relied on measuring two
categories of credibility; FB medium credibility and FB content
credibility. The source credibility can be reduced and considered
among medium credibility as the study does not deal with specific
content and issues with certain sources that are evaluated for
credibility. In addition, Li and Suh  (pg: 316) reveal that users
do not care about "source information credibility when they give
a like to a FB page". In other words, the measurements in this
study do not deal with comments, likes, and shares of users to
evaluate their assessments of the sources. Based on the previous
studies [7,10,19,25,29-33] I measured respondents' evaluating
of 16 attributes of FB credibility which were categorized in two
• Facebook medium credibility, and
• Facebook content credibility,
Modifying the measurements and attributes to be relevant to this
platform as follows:
Facebook medium credibility: Six items were sited to express
this variable including; knowledgeable, influential, passionate,
independent, transparent, and reliable.
Facebook content credibility: Ten items were sited to express
this variable including; authentic, insightful, informative, fair,
focused, accurate, timely, popular, In-depth and consistent.
All of the sixteen items of both medium and content credibility
were measured on a five-point scale: never=1, little=2,
sometimes=3, much=4, and all the time=5. And an exploratory
factor analysis was conducted to extract the types of FB credibility.
The questionnaire contained levels of predictors as shown in the
Facebook political content usage: Respondents were asked two
questions about the degree of their interest and use of political
content in FB:
• The number of days to access per week. The answers ranged
from every day, 4-6 days per week, 1-3 days per week to whenever
the time is available.
• The number of hours it takes to use political content per day.
The answers ranged from 4 hours or more per day, 2-3 hours, 1-2
hours, to one hour or less per day.
Answers of the two questions were grouped in four levels to
estimate the extent of political content usage; low=1, middle=2,
high=3, and very high=4 (M=3.66, SD=1.07).
Hypothesis 1: The credibility of Facebook will be significantly
predicted by users' usage of political content.
Facebook political content dependency: Based on "media
dependency theory", individuals have oriented goals which are
conditional upon the resources media afford  and may form dependencies with the media as a means of achieving these goals
. Hence, it is vital to raise the value of trust in the media
especially when people have no alternative sources to mass
media. This trust will lead the audience to be more dependent on
the media [36-38]. With regard to those variables of the theory,
the users' perception of FB as an exclusive information system
will influence their considering FB as more dependent on them
The users were asked about how much they rely on FB if they want
to get information on important political issues. This item was
measured on a five-point scale: never=1, little=2, sometimes=3,
much=4, and all the time=5 (M=3.66, SD=1.43).
Hypothesis 2: The credibility of Facebook will be significantly
predicted by users' reliance on it for political information seeking.
Political participation: Political participation was defined as
"activity that has the intent or effect of influencing government
action– either directly by affecting the making of implementation
of public policy or indirectly by influencing the people's selection
of those policies" . Some of the previous studies had linked
between political participation as dependent variable predicted
by traditional media use [41,42], and by internet and blogs use [43-46]. Also, a study by Lane et al.  tested the effects of specific
motivations for using social media (i.e., political engagement,
relationship maintenance, and self-promotion) on users' sharing
of political information when engaged in conversations involving
political disagreement. All these studies did not indicate evidence
about political participation as an independent variable to
alternatively predict media effects. But in this study, I'll try to test
it as an independent variable to predict some of FB properties
such as its credibility and political contributions.
The questionnaire included eighteen phrases representing
activities which respondents answered if they did or engaged in
during the past twelve months. The items were classified into two
Offline political participation: This variable included conventional
and unconventional political activities that the respondents may
have been engaged in throughout the past year. They answered
eleven questions about
1. Attending political, cultural or social seminars or discussions,
2. Participation in city, district or county council activities,
3. Communicating with a local official or a member of parliament,
4. Participation in the political marketing of a candidate,
5. Talking to an official about a community matter,
6. Attending a political meeting either with a party or with a
candidate for elections,
7. Participating in demonstrations or sit-ins,
8. Voting in parliamentary or political elections,
9. Contacting one of the media institutions,
10. Participation with a group with political or social activity,
11. Participation in political clubs or party committees.
The responses were scaled: yes=1, never=0. These items were
calculated (M= 1.32, SD=1.45).
Online political participation: In the era of "digital democracy"
previous studies debated that the Web has opened space for
political reengagement presenting a potentially more equalitarian
chance and the use of Internet has increased by users to convey
political messages and express their political views [48-51]. In
addition, The Internet lowers the costs of participating given that
many of the participatory activities undertaken via the Internetforwarding
emails, watching campaign videos- are low-intensity
activities  (pg: 10). Such online political activities were
measured in the current study through seven items;
• Sending a political message by e-mail,
• Commenting on political issues published on newspaper
• Launching a political or social campaign on the Internet,
• Launching or participating in Hashtag on the Internet,
• Communicating with a politician or an official on the Internet,
• Advertising for a political candidate through the Internet,
• Forming or participating in a group on social media to call for
an action or take a certain position. The responses were scaled:
yes=1, never=0. These items were calculated (M=2.14, SD=2.01).
Hypothesis 3: The credibility of Facebook will be significantly
predicted by users' political participation.
Interactivity with political topics on FB: One of the interactive
capacities of FB is its ability to attract users to use text, images,
videos, and links as interactive content  (pg: 155) and since
offline content such as newspapers, television, and radio are
different than online content which would include social media
like FB, it is needed to analyze how users' interactivity with political
content will influence their attitudes towards FB credibility. This
variable was measured through five items to which respondents
were exposed in order to determine how they were participating,
sharing and interacting with political topics via FB platform: "I
usually post my views and thoughts about political issues", "I'm
interested in sharing political materials on FB", "I comment on
posts bearing political topics", "I'm interested in replying or
reacting on comments about political topics", and "I participate
in or create Hashtags and pages on FB related to political issues".
For each item, the response options were measured on a fivepoint
scale that included: never=1, few=2, on average=3, very
often=4, and always=5. The total scores of the five terms were
calculated (M=14.8, SD=4.34).
Hypothesis 4: The credibility of Facebook will be significantly
predicted by users' interactivity with political content.
Facebook efficacy: Previous studies related to media efficacy had
focused on individuals' perceptions of how much traditional and
online news media help them to understand and solve complex
issues [53-55]. A recent study by Hocevar, Flanagin and Metzger
 measured the efficacy of social media and its relationship
to the trustworthy of information shared via them. Politically,
Facebook efficacy refers to the extent to which users perceive FB content to be helpful to understand political issues and to solve
problems related to complex political topics and social affairs.
Guided by previous research , respondents evaluated the
usefulness of four types of actions through four items: "FB can
highlight an issue to attract more attention to it", "Through FB,
complaints can be presented and communicated to the relevant
officials or authorities", "FB helps solve many common problems
and issues", and "FB can be used to advertise or market an idea
or topic". The items were measured on a five-point scale: never
useful=1, little=2, sometimes=3, much=4, and useful all the
time=5 (M=14.44, SD=2.95).
Hypothesis 5: The extent of perceived Facebook efficacy by users
will significantly predict the credibility of this platform.
Political contributions of Facebook: Previous studies [58,59]
showed that social media played a key role in the Egyptian
uprisings of January and February 2011, and Abdulla  revealed
that "this platform has provided new avenues for expressing
critical views, challenging established media entities, and
organizing against the government" (pg: 1). Since the revolution,
the Egyptian use of social networking has increased. Gad  (pg:
6) reveals that:
Egyptians used Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to send millions
of internet links, news, articles, videos, and free campaigns to
people all over the world and news quickly spread because Twitter
allowed Egyptians to upload information in as it happened and
write comments about their government. Social media allowed
the free speech that wasn’t allowed by the government.
These roles played by social media for political mobility and
democracy in Egypt are not always seen as the prevailing situation
as there are many negatives and concerns associated with their
contributions to the political process, such as increased political
tension, the spread of hate speech, incitement, distorting the
reputation of others and the spread of anonymous rumors.
The questionnaire included ten items about the respondents'
views of how FB contributed to the political sphere in Egypt. Six
items were related to positive contributions; "FB has contributed
to marketing politicians for their programs and activities", "FB has
contributed to the formation of public opinion towards political
and social issues and events", "FB has contributed to clarifying
the actual reality of political and social issues", "FB has provided
opportunities for interaction with politicians and candidates",
"FB has contributed to the creation of a public political sphere
that promotes democratic practice", and "FB has provided
opportunities for oversight of the performance of government,
politicians and political elites". These items were measured on
a five-point scale: never=1, little=2, sometimes=3, much=4, and
all the time=5 to express the positive political contributions
The other four items were related to negative contributions;
"FB is concerned only with controversial matters and increases
conflict between users", "FB has increased the conflict between
political parties and political forces", "FB has contributed to the
increase of political tension in the country", and "FB has played
a role in promoting rumors and discrediting others". and were
reversed in the same scale (M=10.07, SD=3.349).
Hypothesis 6: The credibility of Facebook will be significantly
predicted by users' believe in its political contributions.
Demographic variables: The study used four independent
demographic variables: age, measured with a four-group scale;
18-29=1, 3-less than 40=2, 40-less than 50=3, and 50 years old
and above=4 (M=1.80, SD=.91); gender, male coded=1; female
coded=0 (M=.36, SD=.48); education level, measured with a
four-point scale; less than high school=1, high school or some
college=2, college degree=3, postgraduate, master or PhD
degree=4 (M=2.78, SD=.61); and income, measured with a sixpoint
scale; less than 2000 Egyptian Pounds=1, 2000- less than
4000 EGP=2, 4000- less than 6000 EGP=3, 6000- less than 8000
EGP=4, 8000-less than 10000 EGP=5, and 10000 Pounds or more
=6 (M=2.62, SD=1.44).
Hypothesis 7: The credibility of Facebook will be significantly
predicted by users' demographic variables (age, gender,
education, and income).
Statistical treatments: The exploratory factor analysis was
conducted with the use of principal components procedure on
factors selected for having an Eigenvalue of greater than 1 for
extraction and the Varimax method of rotation with suppressing
the absolute values less than .60, and all reliability measures
were 0.7 or higher. To test the hypotheses, the study conducted
a linear regression analysis by using "Enter Model" to test how
all kinds of FB credibility were regressed on the independent
Results of Factor Analysis on FB
The analysis explored the following factors:
As shown in Table 1, four factors of FB credibility were extracted
through exploratory factor analysis and they all altogether
explained 67.14% of the total variance. The four factors were
built through 12 qualities of credibility for Facebook. Four
qualities were removed because of their low loading values;
"FB provides insightful opinions and views", "FB highlights
negative and positive aspects of society without prejudice",
"FB is characterized by the depth of its handling of subjects and
provision of sufficient evidence" and "FB contributes to reaching
a consensus opinion or trend representing the general majority".
The loading factors were:
|FB content is always provided with the latest news and events
|The content of FB always keeps pace with important events
|FB content takes an interest in mainstream issues and public opinion
|The content of FB is very much related to the general culture of society
|FB is transparent and includes all opinions in addressing issues and events
|FB content conveys the true picture of issues and events
|The content of FB is usually accurate
|FB is trustworthy and reliable
|F3: Social Impact
|FB has an influential role in individuals and communities
|FB has the ability to create empathy with different issues and events
|FB is characterized as a broad source of information and knowledge
|FB is independent and not subject to the control of the Authority
|% of variance explained
|Cronbach’s Alpha (Reliability scores)
|Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy
Table 1: Factor loading for Facebook credibility.
• Timeliness (M=15.21, SD=2.999) was loaded with four qualities
of FB content credibility which express how this content is timing
in and keeping path with the latest events and social activities.
• Transparency (M=11.63, SD=3.45) was loaded with mixed four
qualities, two of them represent FB credibility as a medium; "FB
is transparent and includes all opinions in addressing issues and
events" and "FB is trustworthy and reliable", while the others
represent FB content credibility; "FB content conveys the true
picture of issues and events" and " The content of FB is usually
accurate". This factor reveals that users acknowledge Facebook's
limpidity as a platform as they see it in its content.
• Social Impact (M=12.31, SD=1.97) was loaded with three
qualities of FB credibility as a medium that show how FB affects the community when users believe in its ability to create empathy
for issues as well as an important source of information.
• Independency (M=3.17, SD=1.24) was loaded with one quality
which distinguishes FB as an independent médium (Table 1).
Testing Hypotheses and Discussions
As shown in Table 2, there is some support to the first and
second hypotheses by indicating positive regressed correlations.
For the first hypothesis, Egyptian users' perception of FB as an
independent medium was positively predicted by the extent of
their political usage of FB. This result is consistent with what
Johnson and Kaye  has produced that the greater the public's
use of a medium, the more credible they are to judge it. Since
FB became a new medium which creates aspirations for more
using, the users will apply the credibility of that medium  and
because FB is characterized as independent of official and nonofficial
authorities and as independent of the media controlled
by corporates and authorities, it provides more credibility to
the political information that is sought and shared by users. The
features of the FB platform allow users to choose the content they
receive from friends or sources that they have already identified
to match their self-selected preferences, therefore, this platform
is characterized by a high degree of credibility due to this self-selective nature . All these factors were related to Egyptian
users' evaluation of Facebook as an independent medium in its
content and sources (Table 2).
|FB political content usage
|FB political content dependency
|Adjusted R square
Degrees of freedom=12, *p £ .05, **p £ .01, ***p £.001., N=590
Table 2: OLS Regression Analysis Results Examining Predictors of FB Credibility.
In the second hypothesis, users' reliance on FB for using and
seeking political content positively predicted only their assessment
of Facebook's social impact in society. Therefore, Egyptian users
who rely on FB for political content are likely to consider it a more
credible source than other media and non-media sources. This
finding is consistent with the findings of the study by Johnson
and Kaye  who found that "the more politically interested
users rely on social network sites for political information the
more likely they are to deem these venues as credible" (pg: 965).
Whereas the peer review process can lead to an increase in the
medium credibility , FB users will rely more on the political
content than other traditional and online media because it allows
them to read and write in-depth and transparent messages .
Such transparency which was perceived by the reliance on the FB
political content would become effective in integrating Egyptian
users with either the content or with each other to reflect the
effectiveness and the influential role of FB on individuals and
communities when arising the debate on political issues. From
the functional alternative paradigm which was confirmed in
previous studies [62-64], my findings reveal that Facebook platform can displace other traditional and new media to satisfy
Egyptian users' needs to political content when they consider it
more credible and influential in society.
With regard to the third hypothesis, there was no support for
offline respondents' political participation to predict FB credibility.
Only online political participation have predicted the perception
of FB as an independent medium. This finding is not consistent
with previous studies who found that users who consider social
media as a credible source of political news are those who
engage in offline political activities such as participating in or
interesting in an election campaign, voting, performing civic
duties, and volunteering behavior [65-69]. But my finding can
be foreseen by what the Internet and social media, in particular,
have made available of "digital democracy" that the space has
become more open to users to reintegrate politically [48,51] and
technologically participate and engage in public affairs if they are
aware of the independence of their new medium. This sense of
independence of the FB platform generates what Yilmaz  has
acknowledged as "the optimistic viewpoint" that the Internet has
given way to mass mobilization with low cost leading to more
levels of political participation. Through Facebook, Egyptian
users could present their ideas without any restrictions from the
ruling authority that there is no kind of privilege and monopoly of
some people, groups, and dominant ideological and intellectual
Table 2 shows full support to the fourth hypothesis that
interactivity with political content predicted the four types of
credibility and considerable support to the fifth hypothesis
which produced a positive regressed relationship between
respondents' perception of Facebook efficacy and their
assessments of all timeliness, transparency, and social impact of FB. These correlations mean that the high level of interactivity
and efficiency of FB users leads them to further embrace the
credibility of FB as both a medium and its content.
Regarding interactivity with political content, previous studies
have shown that users of social media tend to trust information
on these tools when they are at higher levels of interactivity
[10,61]. Since FB is characterized as a social platform which
depends on the use of smart technology devices, it allows users
to share and interact with topics and events and participate in the
discussion and modify the content that users create  where
they became producers and consumers of political content 
to create what Bruns  terms "produsage" that there are no
boundaries between producer (sender) and consumer (receiver)
because users create the content for each other. In addition,
while FB users are always looking to ensure the delivery of their
messages to others and have an impact on humanitarian causes
including political debates , all these effects are conditional
on the achievement of an appropriate amount of credibility both
for the political content and the source.
Regarding FB efficacy, my findings are compatible with the study
by Hocevar, et al.  who found that the shared content of social
media was assessed to be more trustworthy by users with higher
social media self-efficacy than those with a lower level. In the
current study, Egyptian users with a higher rating for the efficacy
of FB will consider uploaded political information and opinions
on this platform more credible and thus are more vulnerable to
what others publish via FB. Such consumption of the political
content via FB may provide users with new information or
views on political affairs so as to support and market attitudes,
reinforce current values, or perhaps ignore information that
conflicts with their political views [65,72,75]. Some studies have suggested that the users can better recall the content of the
website when it is considered to be more credible than others
 that their impression about that medium will, in turn, affect
their cognitive processing of the content . Therefore, users'
awareness of the adequacy of FB in explaining and simplifying
complex political issues is crucial to understanding the positive
relationship between FB efficacy and its credibility.
There was full support to the sixth hypothesis with significant
positive regressed relations between users' believe in the positive
role of FB in political contributions and the four categories of FB
credibility. These positive relationships denied the existence of
a relationship between users' perception of the negative role of
FB in political contributions and FB credibility as shown in Table
2. The positive political role of FB from Egyptian users' views
reflects their belief in the availability of this platform to introduce
democratic communication between them by turning it into an
arena for free expression of all opinions and trends and to allow
the public to express their views on the intellectual and political
projects, and to express their problems online.
There was some support to the seventh hypothesis with achieving
some regressed relations between demographic variables of the
respondents and some kinds of FB credibility as shown in Table 2.
Older respondents considered FB to be more independent than
the younger ones. This result may be due to the fact that younger
users rarely verify information  while older users tend to
express their opinions and trends or share posts about various
issues, believing that FB is a suitable platform for such media
practices and its sources are independent of media institutions.
Although previous studies have shown that younger users rely
more on the Internet and social media to obtain information on
public affairs and political campaigns [77,78], the result of the
current study indicates that there is an increase in FB usage and
its political content among older Egyptian users.
Females were more assessing the social impact of FB than males.
This result is due to the fact that females tend to use social media
more than males for social activities such as communication,
posting, sharing photos and information [79,80], and engaging
in the interpersonal discussion online  and they tend to more
social activities with the aim of expressing them on social media
[82,83]. Doing such activities stems from the appreciation of the
social effectiveness of Facebook by female users who believe
in the role of this platform in creating friends' interaction and
sympathy towards the political content they publish.
The timeliness of FB was adopted more by respondents with
lower educational level than the highest ones. Shariff et al. 
explain this result that the more educated respondents may
have a higher level of experience that enables them to be more
careful in making credibility judgments. As the current study
shows, the most educated users have been appreciative of
Facebook's credibility based on timeliness attribution of content
which requires users to be more sensitive to this content and
its requirements to keep up with the issues, ideas, and general
culture prevailing in society. The same positive relationship
was found by users with the higher income who also rated the
timeliness of FB more than the highest level but they evaluated FB
less independent than users with lower income. This last finding can be clarified with my viewpoint that users with fewer income
levels feel the traditional media are not achieving their interests
and priorities because they are not independent of government,
political or economic control, therefore, they do not trust them
and consider alternative media, such as social media, as more
independent and remote from those types of control.
This study relied on a survey on a sample of Egyptian adults
of FB users to examine the political and non-political factors
which predict FB credibility. The study extends the findings
of previous research on the credibility of social networks sites
and FB in particular. Exploratory factor analysis extracted four
factors (timeliness, transparency, social impact, independency)
reducting 16 qualities related to FB credibility. As predicted,
some of these four factors were predicted by various variables.
Although some predictors such as the use of political content, the
dependency on FB for gathering and using political information,
and users' online political participation were predicting some
of the credibility factors, the effects have grown with other
three indicators: users' interaction with political content, their
appreciation of FB efficacy, and their assessment of Facebook's
positive contribution to the political life in Egypt.
These high evaluations of Egyptian users for the credibility
of Facebook based on those last three factors illuminate that
Facebook has become a major determinant of what formats public
opinion in Egypt, and provides users with a lot of information
through which they get acquainted with public affairs and the
knowledge of political figures as well as its role in public debates
and the electoral process as a whole. Through this platform, the
political truth is built with the participation of users who have
roles in controlling the content.
Facebook credibility has been proven by some demographic
variables of Egyptian users. These influential relationships
confirm the diversity of user adoption models for Facebook's
credibility, which reveals the increasing importance of political
message producers and organizers of the political campaign
taking into account the individual, social and physical differences
Limitations and Recommendations for
The study showed that the Facebook platform is capable of
mobilizing Egyptian users for electronic political participation
which is manifested in the broadening of the expression of their
political views and beliefs, participation in political and social
activities and joining electronic campaigns. The fact that Egyptians
have accounts and opportunities to participate in groups formed
through Facebook has opened the door to political practice in
cyberspace. This means that the political aspect has become a
fundamental variable for the practices of Egyptian users via
FB, which contributed to the oscillation of political interactions
between the virtual and the real world.
The independency of FB which was assessed by users highlights
the need for further exploration of the credibility of the source, particularly as it relates to specific issues and topics raised on
this platform. This also extends to measuring the credibility
of the groups' creators that mobilize users to engage in and
investigating how groups' sources are managing the campaigns
they launch and how users engage and respond to them as a
predictor of these sources credibility. As the independency of
the media is closely related to democracy and its principles, the
transition of this independency to FB guarantees the freedom of
opinion and expression at this platform to achieve a real role for
the performance of its social functions, including self-censorship
of the society, representation of all communities and nonalignment
of other communities. All these factors help Facebook
users to participate effectively in public life.
The results provide an instructive field for politicians, political
candidates, and political campaigners when using social media,
especially FB to introduce themselves to the masses. They must
build a sufficient amount of interactivity with users to ensure that
they are attracted to what is being disseminated in this platform
and to learn about the reaction feedback of the masses towards
those campaigns and content. This interactivity also requires the creation of content that audiences feel is credible, reliable and
useful to them.
Future research can be geared toward studying the effects of
FB users and groups on the political and social agenda of the
government by imposing specific events and issues that may be
marginalized or beyond the authorities' concerns. Social media
have become platforms that are free to convey information,
interact with issues and events and thus have the ability to
There are some political variables needed to be discovered in
Egypt and Arab world such as partisan and political affiliation,
political information, political interest, and political efficacy to
test their relationships with political use of social media.
As a result of the current work, Facebook poses on Arab
governments with a great challenge to develop their media, free
it from the rigid language and gain more credibility and free it
from excessive publicity. With alternatives such as Facebook,
governments will not only find themselves isolated from the
media, but they may find themselves the target of attacks that
may come from good intentions and national motives.
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