In March 2020, Philip Mai and Anatoliy Gruzd launched COVID19MisInfo.org to respond to the coronavirus pandemic unfolding in Canada and around the world. In the following email interview, they discuss their research on misinformation, the future of fact-checking and why this pandemic could have lasting effects on media literacy and the right to freedom of expression. #mediadev: Looking at the example of COVID-19, how does your research impact our understanding of misinformation on social media? Philip Mai/Anatoliy Gruzd: If we allow COVID-19 misinformation to spread unchallenged, it will undermine the work of public health officials and put the public and medical workers at risk of contracting or spreading the infection. In addition to the medical danger, COVID-19 misinformation can also be used to facilitate financial scams, identity theft and other data breaches. Misinformation about the virus can contribute to people’s fears and may cause them to act irrationally or even lead to instances of microaggressions. By studying COVID-19 misinformation, we help the public, policy makers and social media platforms to better understand how misinformation about the virus spreads on social media, what types of false claims are likely to go viral, who is doing the spreading and who is being… Read full this story
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