In a first-of-its-kind research evaluating a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of social media posts about on-line well being subjects, a crew of researchers discovered that posts about COVID-19 had been much less prone to include 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 sorts of details about COVID-19—together with misinformation—had been standard between March and Could 2020, posts about COVID-19 had been extra prone to come from governments and tutorial establishments. In lots of instances, these posts had been extra prone to go viral than posts from sources that routinely unfold misinformation.
“Initially of the pandemic, governments and organizations all over the world began being attentive to the issue of well being misinformation on-line,” David Broniatowski, an affiliate professor of engineering administration and programs engineering on the George Washington College and affiliate director of GW’s Institute for Knowledge, Democracy and Politics, mentioned. “However once you evaluate 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 crew 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, trying on the credibility of the web sites that every publish shared. Extra credible sources included authorities and tutorial sources in addition to the standard information media. Sources deemed “not credible” comprised conspiracy-oriented websites and state-sponsored websites recognized for spreading propaganda, which had been 3.67 instances extra prone to unfold misinformation than credible websites.
“Misinformation has at all times been current, even at increased proportions earlier than COVID-19 began. Many individuals knew this, which makes the following misinformation unfold throughout COVID-19 totally predictable,” Mark Dredze, an affiliate professor of pc science at Johns Hopkins College, and co-author of the research, mentioned. “Had we been extra proactive in preventing misinformation, we could not have been in an anti-vaccination disaster in the present day.”
“These findings counsel that the ‘infodemic’ of misinformation is a basic function of well being data on-line, not one restricted to COVID-19,” Broniatowski mentioned. “Clearly there’s quite a lot of misinformation about COVID-19, however makes an attempt to fight it is likely to be higher knowledgeable by comparability to the broader well being misformation ecosystem.”
Sandra Crouse Quinn, a professor on the College of Maryland’s College of Public Well being and a co-author on the paper, emphasised the analysis’s concentrate on the pandemic’s starting.
“At this level within the pandemic, it’s important for brand spanking new analysis to additional discover COVID-19 misinformation throughout the well being misinformation ecosystem, however most significantly, how we will fight this problem,” Quinn mentioned.
The paper, “Twitter and Fb posts about COVID-19 are much less prone to unfold misinformation in comparison with different well being subjects” was printed within the journal PLOS ONE on Jan. 12. The analysis crew 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.
“Twitter and Fb posts about COVID-19 are much less prone to unfold misinformation in comparison with different well being subjects” PLOS ONE (2022). journals.plos.org/plosone/arti … journal.pone.0261768
George Washington College
New research calls into query early claims of COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ of well being misinformation (2022, January 12)
retrieved 12 January 2022
This doc is topic to copyright. Aside from any truthful dealing for the aim of personal research or analysis, no
half could also be reproduced with out the written permission. The content material is offered for data functions solely.