Abstract: Focusing on Turkey, this article analyzes the role of polarization on news users’ perception of misinformation and mistrust in the news on social media. Turkey is one of the countries where citizens complain most about misinformation on the internet. The citizens’ trust in news institutions is also in continuous decline. Furthermore, both Turkish society and its media landscape are politically highly polarized. Focusing on Turkey’s highly polarized environment, the article aims to analyze how political polarization influences the users’ trust in the news and their perceptions about misinformation on social media. The study is based on multi-method research, including focus groups, media diaries, and interviews with people of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. The article firstly demonstrates different strategies that the users develop to validate information, including searching for any suspicious information on search engines, looking at the comments below the post, and looking at other news media, especially television. Secondly, we will discuss how more affective mechanisms of news assessment come into prominence while evaluating political news. Although our participants are self-aware and critical about their partisan attitudes in news consumption and evaluation, they also reveal media sources to which they feel politically closer. We propose the concept of “skeptical inertia” to refer to this self-critical yet passive position of the users in the face of the polarized news environment in Turkey.
Keywords: misinformation; news; polarization; skeptical inertia; social media; Turkey