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The rapid spread of misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased calls for news literacy to help mitigate endorsement of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and other falsehoods. In two cross-sectional online surveys conducted in October 2020 (N = 1,502) and July 2021 (N = 1,330), this study examines relationships between news literacy, COVID-19 misinformation, conspiratorial thinking, and political orientation in the United States. The results show that individuals with higher levels of news literacy were more likely to reject COVID-19 misinformation and conspiratorial thinking, but also that news literacy matters more for individuals with liberal political views than conservative political views and is unevenly distributed across the study population with age, race, political orientation, and news diet as significant predictors of news literacy. Results suggest that improved news literacy could be part of a strategy to equip individuals to reject health misinformation, but varied approaches will be necessary to engage with disparate groups.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Mass Communication and Society in July 2023, available online:

Available for download on Wednesday, June 05, 2024

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