A small team of researchers from Sony Computer Laboratories in France explored why misinformation seemed to thrive during the global pandemic. In their article published in the journal natural human behavior, Pietro Gravino, Giulio Prevedello, Martina Galletti and Vittorio Loretom looked at the supply and demand for information about COVID-19 during the pandemic and compared how the media reacted.
One of the most notable features of the global pandemic is the seemingly relentless flow of misinformation attributed not just to the virus and those infected, but also to how the medical community has responded to the threat. From ridiculous claims about supposed cures to baseless claims by anti-vaxxers, misinformation has flourished. In this new effort, the researchers asked why this was happening and they looked at sources of information, both reliable and unreliable, as participants in an ecosystem of supply and demand information.
The job was to look at the problem in Italy – they started by getting print stories from Italian media sources into a public database. They also retrieved information from another database of articles published by fact-checking groups, which helped them separate sources of information based on their reliability. All of these items made up the supply side of the system.
To learn more about demand for information about the pandemic, researchers looked at Google’s search trends. To compare the supply and demand for information, the researchers looked at searches made by people looking for information and compared them to the responses available from information sources. The researchers found that news sources identified as generally unreliable tended to react more quickly to new information than more traditional and trusted sources.
Researchers were unable to determine why untrusted news sources were able to react more quickly, but suggest the end result was greater visibility for untrusted sources, leading to misinformation. generalized gaining ground and ultimately accepted.
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Pietro Gravino et al, The supply and demand of information during COVID-19 and the evaluation of the production of dubious sources, Nature Human behavior (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-022-01353-3
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Quote: Why Disinformation Flourished During the Pandemic (2022, May 25) Retrieved May 26, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-disinformation-flourished-pandemic.html
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