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Social Media Fact-Checking Can Play An Important Role In Slowing The Spread Of Vaccine Misinformation

By June 23, 2021COVID-19

A new study says that social media fact-checking can play an important role in slowing the spread of vaccine misinformation.

People who saw posts tagged with fact-checking labels had a more positive view of vaccines than those who saw only the misinformation. Having accurate information is important since widespread vaccination will play an essential role in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. Educating yourself and others about how to recognize credible sources of information can help as well.

Social media abounds with misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines. Some sources suggest that they can cause autism or are full of dangerous toxins. Yet others believe they are a plot to control society.

Given the ability of vaccines to prevent disease and save lives, public health experts say it’s very important that unfounded beliefs such as these are wiped out. Public health experts around the world have long fought to dispel such myths by educating people with the facts.

Now, a new study says that social media fact-checking may play a valuable role in these efforts. The study found that fact-checking labels on misinformation helped people view vaccines in a more favorable light.

What the study found

For the study, the researchers tested to see the effects of the use of fact-checking labels. Over 1,000 people with varying levels of “vaccine hesitancy” from around the United States were involved in the study. A mock Twitter account was used to display several different misinformation messages covering five vaccine types and five categories of 13 fact-checking sources. The researchers used alternating fact-checking labels from various sources, including the media and organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What they found was that the people who were shown fact-checking labels were more likely to have a positive view of vaccines than those who saw the misinformation alone.

In addition, vaccine skepticism, the type of vaccine misinformation, and political beliefs didn’t affect this outcome. The study authors suggest that something as simple as tagging the information as false and linking to a credible source can be effective in changing attitudes about vaccines.

They recommend that ideally this should be done by the social media company itself in conjunction with institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO). A mock Twitter account was used to display several different misinformation messages covering five vaccine types and five categories of 13 fact-checking sources.

The researchers used alternating fact-checking labels from various sources, including the media and organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What they found was that the people who were shown fact-checking labels were more likely to have a positive view of vaccines than those who saw the misinformation alone.

In addition, vaccine skepticism, the type of vaccine misinformation, and political beliefs didn’t affect this outcome. The study authors suggest that something as simple as tagging the information as false and linking to a credible source can be effective in changing attitudes about vaccines. They recommend that ideally this should be done by the social media company itself in conjunction with institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO) or trusted health professionals.

Daniel TL

Daniel TL

Hi!