The Use of Facebook by Agricultural Communities of Practices in Sri Lanka for Knowledge Sharing and Learning in the Era of Misinformation

Illesinghe, Kasuni Sachithra
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University of Guelph

Sri Lankans use Facebook (Fb) to communicate and share information. The virtual communities of practices (VCoPs) share knowledge and build relationships while encouraging learning and providing opportunities for doing business. Yet, online misinformation circulation threatens the information-sharing and learning process within VCoPs. Therefore, members of Fb communities could be easy targets of misinformation. This study explores how knowledge sharing and learning occur within Fb Virtual Communities in Sri Lanka with the threat of disseminating misinformation. The research findings revealed that while Fb VCoPs share knowledge related to diverse agricultural topics via different mediums to provide solutions to overcome the prevailing challenges in Sri Lankan agriculture, online misinformation threatens the sustainability of VCoPs. State interference, members’ violent behaviour, and lack of diverse content decrease members’ engagement. Research results highlight the importance of tackling the misinformation threat and the necessity of government support in developing the capacities of these VCoPs.

Virtual Communities of Practice, Misinformation, Agriculture, Social Media, Sri Lanka