Greater than 225,000 tweets with the hashtags #scamdemic and #plandemic led to an “infodemic” of misinformation and disinformation on Twitter in the course of the first 12 months of the pandemic, based on a examine by UT Southwestern researchers revealed in PLOS ONE.
Pushed by issues over grave penalties from the unfold of false details about COVID-19 on social media, members of UT Southwestern’s Medical Informatics Heart got down to outline the scope of the issue and supply perception for future public well being emergencies.
“This conundrum was nearly inevitable,” mentioned Christoph U. Lehmann, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Medical Informatics Heart. “We have been navigating new territory when SARS-CoV-2 was unleashed on the world, so we have been all studying as we went. Given the mutating virus, the evolving pointers on therapy and precautions, and the great financial and social affect of the pandemic, the state of affairs was ripe for the unfold of baseless claims in regards to the illness.”
The researchers used a Twitter scraping software referred to as Twint to gather English-language tweets together with #scamdemic or #plandemic. After eliminating retweets, replies, and duplicate tweets, they discovered that 40,081 customers tweeted 227,067 instances utilizing the chosen hashtags. Whereas Twitter suspended one-fifth of the customers related to the tweets, 80% of them have been left to put up and repeat misinformation (outlined as false info not supposed to hurt) and disinformation (false info that carries an intent to hurt).
“Combating these echo chambers the place a number of folks repeat and disseminate disinformation is important,” mentioned Richard J. Medford, M.D., Assistant Professor of Inner Medication and Affiliate Chief Medical Informatics Officer at UTSW. “The UT Southwestern Public Well being crew started exploring public sentiment and the position of social media early within the COVID pandemic to assist establish misinformation. We created fashions of COVID-related tweets and revealed research on public sentiment on social distancing measures and guides on the best way to use Twitter and different social media information to watch new illness outbreaks.”
The work to know well being messaging on social media and promote correct info can be a precedence for Dr. Lehmann and Dr. Medford as they assist to ascertain UTSW’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. College of Public Well being, which is able to welcome its firstclass subsequent 12 months.
“The objective of public well being is to forestall illness, promote well being, and lengthen life among the many inhabitants as a complete. Nothing may very well be nearer to this mission than combating false info on well being,” Dr. Lehmann mentioned.
Twitter well being amplifiers fight COVID-19 misinformation
Heather D. Lanier et al, Analyzing COVID-19 disinformation on Twitter utilizing the hashtags #scamdemic and #plandemic: Retrospective examine, PLOS ONE (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268409
UT Southwestern Medical Heart
Researchers doc ‘infodemic’ of false info on COVID-19 in first 12 months of pandemic (2022, August 4)
retrieved 4 August 2022
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