Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Health (mis)information behaviour in the Covid-19 era #AECIST20

Today is the second day of the the online conference Information Science Trends: Health Information Behavior, organised by the European Chapter of ASIS&T. The keynote talk today is Diane Pennington (University of Strathclyde, Scotland) who talked about Health (mis)information behaviour in the Covid-19 era . Misinformation is not new, but an obvious difference between the pandemic a hundred years ago and this one was the slower rate of mass transmission of information then (e.g. death figures appearing in newspapers then, and in real time on the web now). Pennington highlighted the coining of the term "infodemic" by the World Health Organization, and also the article by Xie et al. in JASIST (Global health crises are also information crises: A call to action - https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.24357) which was written pre COVID but which links the issues of misinformation and health information. She also talked about the seven types of #COVID19 #MisInformation which have been identified in the current work of the Social Media Lab.
Pennington went on to talk about her own work investigating at the authority of information, for example https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3066582/. She explored the concept of post-truth, which doesn't imply that there is no truth, but that people are relying more on their own epistemology, and their own gut feelings and values to judge what is "true". She highlighted the problem of people (like Donald Trump) who manipulate and distract from the real problems and obviously influence those who believe in and trust the non-truth speaker. Pennington cited Lewandowsky et al (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2017.07.008) in saying that a post-truth world"empowers people to choose their own reality where facts and objective evidence are trumped by existing beliefs and prejudices" (p361).
Pennington talked about social media and misinformation (issues such as bots, echo chambers/filter bubbles, the fact that reposting on socal media or adopting conspiracy theories may make people feel better). She also showed examples of people debunking those fighting misinformation, using conspiracy theories. Initiatives such as the WHO myth busters site try to counter this https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters and Youtube's misinformation policy
There is a good deal of work examining mis/information about Covid19, primarily concentrating on social media platform. Pennington finished by identifying work for information scientists in terms of research, practice, teaching and service/citizenship (see the second screenshot)

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