Home » New study calls into question early claims of COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ of health misinformation

New study calls into question early claims of COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ of health misinformation

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In a first-of-its-kind research evaluating lots of of tens of millions of social media posts about on-line well being subjects, a group of researchers discovered that posts about COVID-19 had been much less more likely to comprise misinformation than posts about different well being subjects. The researchers discovered that well being misinformation was already widespread earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. Though all varieties of details about COVID-19—together with misinformation—had been widespread between March and Could 2020, posts about COVID-19 had been extra more likely to come from governments and tutorial establishments. In lots of circumstances, these posts had been extra more likely to go viral than posts from sources that routinely unfold misinformation.

“Firstly of the pandemic, governments and organizations all over the world began listening to the issue of well being misinformation on-line,” David Broniatowski, an affiliate professor of engineering administration and techniques engineering on the George Washington College and affiliate director of GW’s Institute for Knowledge, Democracy and Politics, stated. “However while you examine it to what was happening earlier than the pandemic, you begin to see that well being misinformation was already widespread. What modified is that, when COVID-19 hit, governments and social media platforms began paying consideration and taking motion.”

The group collected public posts on Twitter and Fb on the very begin of the pandemic—between March 2020 and Could 2020—when content material about COVID-19 was rising quickly. They in contrast these posts to posts about different well being subjects from the identical time interval in 2019, wanting on the credibility of the web sites that every submit shared. Extra credible sources included authorities and tutorial sources in addition to the normal information media. Sources deemed “not credible” comprised conspiracy-oriented websites and state-sponsored websites recognized for spreading propaganda, which had been 3.67 occasions extra more likely to unfold misinformation than credible websites.

“Misinformation has at all times been current, even at larger proportions earlier than COVID-19 began. Many individuals knew this, which makes the following misinformation unfold throughout COVID-19 completely predictable,” Mark Dredze, an affiliate professor of laptop science at Johns Hopkins College, and co-author of the research, stated. “Had we been extra proactive in preventing misinformation, we could not have been in an anti-vaccination disaster at present.”

“These findings recommend that the ‘infodemic’ of misinformation is a normal characteristic of well being info on-line, not one restricted to COVID-19,” Broniatowski stated. “Clearly there may be loads of misinformation about COVID-19, however makes an attempt to fight it may be higher knowledgeable by comparability to the broader well being misformation ecosystem.”

Sandra Crouse Quinn, a professor on the College of Maryland’s Faculty of Public Well being and a co-author on the paper, emphasised the analysis’s deal with the pandemic’s starting.

“At this level within the pandemic, it’s vital for brand new analysis to additional discover COVID-19 misinformation inside the well being misinformation ecosystem, however most significantly, how we are able to fight this problem,” Quinn stated.

The paper, “Twitter and Fb posts about COVID-19 are much less more likely to unfold misinformation in comparison with different well being subjects” was printed within the journal PLOS ONE on Jan. 12. The analysis group additionally included researchers on the College of Maryland, Johns Hopkins College, College of Pittsburgh, College of Memphis and San Diego State College.

Broniatowski is affiliated with the GW Institute for Knowledge, Democracy & Politics, which launched in 2019 with the help of the John S. and James L. Knight Basis. The institute’s mission is to assist the general public, journalists and coverage makers perceive digital media’s affect on public dialogue and opinion, and to develop sound options to disinformation and different ills that come up in these areas.

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Extra info:
“Twitter and Fb posts about COVID-19 are much less more likely to unfold misinformation in comparison with different well being subjects” PLOS ONE (2022). journals.plos.org/plosone/arti … journal.pone.0261768

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New research calls into query early claims of COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ of well being misinformation (2022, January 12)
retrieved 13 January 2022
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