Combating COVID-19 related fake news

Funded by: University of Oxford

Principal Investigator: Mary Chambers

Collaborators: Nguyen Thanh Ha, Tran Minh Hien, Sumita Udas, Ragil Dien, Katrina Lawson

Importance: 

Public health and wellbeing is put at risk by disinformation and fake news, and never more seriously than in times of public health emergencies such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. While traditional news remains a dominant source of scientific information, social media platforms have become important sources of health information and sites for public discourse. However, the health and science presented on these platforms are often problematic. We propose that the antidote to this risk is a targeted and positive public engagement response delivering evidence-based news in partnership with policymakers and key public health stakeholders.

Methods: 

By tracking current disinformation and fake news stories about Covid-19 and the Covid-19 vaccines on social media in Viet Nam, Nepal and Indonesia – the host countries for Oxford University Clinical Research Units, we will identify misinformation that is circulating in these communities. Our findings will be fed back to national policymakers and public health stakeholders to enable them to tailor their Covid-19 related public health messaging. We will bring working groups together to develop evidence-based, locally appropriate public engagement media and open discussion forums to positively counter the trending misinformation, thereby increasing understanding, safe behaviour and public/expert trust.