Dynamics of Feedback Behaviours to Social Peers Sharing COVID-19 Misinformation on WhatsApp in Brazil

Vijaykumar, Santosh, Rogerson, Daniel, Jin, Yan and de Oliveira Costa, Mariella Silva (2021) Dynamics of Feedback Behaviours to Social Peers Sharing COVID-19 Misinformation on WhatsApp in Brazil. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. ocab219. ISSN 1067-5027 (In Press)

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/jamia/ocab219


Online COVID-19 misinformation is a serious concern in Brazil, home to the second largest WhatsApp user base and the second highest number of COVID-19 deaths. We examined the extent to which WhatsApp users might be willing to correct their peers who might share COVID-19 misinformation.

Materials and Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional online survey using Qualtrics among N = 726 Brazilian adults to identify the types of social correction behaviours (SCBs) and health and technological factors that shape the performance of these behaviours.

Brazil’s WhatsApp users expressed medium to high levels of willingness to engage in SCBs. We discovered three modes of SCBs: correction to the group, correction to the sender only, and passive or no correction. WhatsApp users with lower levels of educational attainment and from younger age groups were less inclined to provide corrections. Lastly, perceived severity of COVID-19 and the ability to critically evaluate a message were positively associated with providing corrections to either the group or the sender.

The demographic analyses point to the need to strengthen information literacy among population groups that are younger with lower levels of educational attainment. These efforts could facilitate individual-level contributions to the global fight against misinformation by the World Health Organisation in collaboration with member states, social media companies and civil society.

Our study suggests that Brazil’s WhatsApp users might be willing to actively respond with feedback when exposed to COVID-19 misinformation by their peers on small world networks like WhatsApp groups.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This project was supported by the WhatsApp Social Science Misinformation Award.
Uncontrolled Keywords: misinformation, COVID-19, social media, correction, behavior, Brazil
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
C800 Psychology
P900 Others in Mass Communications and Documentation
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2021 09:44
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2021 14:40
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/47544

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