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In a first-of-its-kind examine evaluating lots of of tens of millions of social media posts about on-line well being matters, a staff of researchers discovered that posts about COVID-19 have been much less prone to comprise misinformation than posts about different well being matters. 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—have been standard between March and Might 2020, posts about COVID-19 have been extra prone to come from governments and tutorial establishments. In lots of instances, these posts have 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 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 Information, Democracy and Politics, stated. “However once 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 staff collected public posts on Twitter and Fb on the very begin of the pandemic—between March 2020 and Might 2020—when content material about COVID-19 was rising quickly. They in contrast these posts to posts about different well being matters from the identical time period in 2019, trying 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 identified for spreading propaganda, which have been 3.67 instances extra prone to unfold misinformation than credible websites.
“Misinformation has at all times been current, even at greater 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 examine, stated. “Had we been extra proactive in preventing misinformation, we might not have been in an anti-vaccination disaster at the moment.”
“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 stated. “Clearly there’s lots of misinformation about COVID-19, however makes an attempt to fight it could 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 are able to fight this problem,” Quinn stated.
The paper, “Twitter and Fb posts about COVID-19 are much less prone to unfold misinformation in comparison with different health matters” was printed within the journal PLOS ONE on Jan. 12. The analysis staff 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 Information, Democracy & Politics, which launched in 2019 with the assist of the John S. and James L. Knight Basis. The institute’s mission is to assist the general public, journalists and policy 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 matters” PLOS ONE (2022). journals.plos.org/plosone/arti … journal.pone.0261768
George Washington University
New examine calls into query early claims of COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ of well being misinformation (2022, January 12)
retrieved 12 January 2022
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