Concerns over the spread of misinformation and fake news on social media – challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic

Leung, Janni, Schoultz, Mariyana, Chiu, Vivian, Bonsaksen, Tore, Ruffolo, Mary, Thygesen, Hilde, Price, Daicia and Geirdal, Amy Østertun (2021) Concerns over the spread of misinformation and fake news on social media – challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic. In: The 3rd International Electronic Conference on Environmental Research and Public Health, 11/1/21 - 25/1/21, Online. (In Press)

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Abstract

IntroductionThe unfolding pandemic of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, has caused challenges across the globe. Shelter-in-place, lock-down, and social distancing policies increased the use of social media for societies to stay connected. This study investigated psychological issues societies experienced from using social media among community during this critical period.MethodsCross-sectional online surveys were used to collect qualitative data from 1991 respondents living in the UK, USA and Australia during April-May 2020 when shelter-in-place or stay-at-home policies were in place.ResultsConcerns over misinformation, conspiracy theories, and fake news were repetitively raised as a critical challenge associated with reports of negative psychological consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, 1 in 3 respondent expressed concerns over misinformation as the key challenge, with higher prevalence among respondents from the USA (41) than UK (35) and Australia (32), χ2(2)=8.5, p=0.015. While some thought social media had facilitated social connections, others said that differing opinions from friends and families have put stress on relationships and created negative psychology. Conflicting information (including information from government bodies, news outlets, information articles and individual opinions) have caused additional stress and anxiety.ConclusionsThe spread of misinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories have caused psychosocial challenges and disconnections in the community. Special attention is needed to address psychological issues caused by the spread of misinformation on social media during the crisis.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: The 3rd International Electronic Conference on Environmental Research and Public Health, ECERPH-3 ; Conference date: 11-01-2021 Through 25-01-2021
Uncontrolled Keywords: pandemic, Coronavirus, mental health, social media, misinformation
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
G400 Computer Science
L900 Others in Social studies
P900 Others in Mass Communications and Documentation
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Nursing, Midwifery and Health
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2021 14:11
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 14:43
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/45433

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