Guided by the network gatekeeping and secondary gatekeeping theoretical frameworks, this study employed a 2 (news headlines: pro-Palestine/anti-Palestine) x 2 (news sources: the Times of Israel/Al-Jazeera English) experiment embedded in an online survey on a purposive sample of Arab social media users (N= 452), aiming to understand the antecedents of online news verification during the 2023 Gaza War1. The study investigated the motives that might have encouraged or discouraged Arabs from verifying the war-related news circulated on social media. A model was proposed to examine the role of confirmation bias in shaping perceptions about sources and messages, thereby impacting online news verification intention. The results showed that the participants were highly driven by their confirmation bias in judging the credibility of the sources and the accuracy of the news headlines they viewed. Interestingly, they were more motivated to verify congruent news headlines to confirm their preexisting beliefs than to validate the accuracy of the content. In addition, news verification motives differently impacted the likelihood of performing five news verification practices. The results also highlight the promising role of media and news literacy in motivating news verification practices driven by truth-seeking.

Keywords: News Verification, Secondary Gatekeeping, Network Gatekeeping, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Verification Antecedents. 1

1 Note: The 2023 Gaza War erupted on October 7, 2023, as a part of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which dates back to 1948. The war is between Israel and Hamas, the governing body in Gaza, and is still ongoing as of the time of submitting this thesis in December 2023.


School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Journalism & Mass Communication Department

Degree Name

MA in Journalism & Mass Communication

Graduation Date

Winter 1-31-2024

Submission Date


First Advisor

Rasha Abdulla

Committee Member 1

Sarah El-Richani

Committee Member 2

Heba Elshahed



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item