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Kümpel, Anna Sophie ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7184-4057; Anter, Luise ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9273-9328 and Unkel, Julian ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9568-7041 (2022): What Does “Being Informed” Mean? Assessing Social Media Users’ Self-Concepts of Informedness. In: Media and Communication, Vol. 10, No. 3: pp. 93-103 [PDF, 335kB]


In recent years, much research has—more or less candidly—asked whether the use of social media platforms is “makingus dumber” (Cacciatore et al., 2018). Likewise, discussions around constructs such as the news‐finds‐me perceptionor illusions of knowledge point to concerns about social media users being inadequately informed. This assessment ofinadequacy, explicitly or implicitly, builds on the ideal of the informed citizen with a broad interest in current affairs whoknows about all important societal issues. However, research has largely ignored what citizens themselves understandas “being informed.” Accordingly, this research project asks what people actually want to be informed about, which usercharacteristics predict different self‐concepts of informedness, and how both of these aspects relate to feelings of beinginformed in the context of social media platforms. Based on a preregistered, national representative survey of Germansocial media users (n = 1,091), we find that keeping up with news and political information is generally less importantfor people than staying informed about their personal interests and their social environment. However, feelings of beinginformed through social media are most strongly predicted by how suitable a given social media platform is perceived tobe for keeping up‐to‐date with current affairs. This suggests that while information needs are diverse and related to differentsociodemographic and personal characteristics, most people indeed seem to associate “being informed” with politicalinformation and news.

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