DCU Covid-19 Research: countering disinformation through mini-publics

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FuJo researchers are investigating citizen exposure to Covid-19 disinformation and possible countermeasures. This is one of sixteen projects funded by DCU’s Covid-19 Research and Innovation Hub.

The FuJo project is led by Jane Suiter, Eileen Culloty and Lala Muradova. The study will investigate citizen’s exposure to mis/disinformation and whether information corrections from expert and citizen sources increase willingness to correct false information.

COVID-19 represents a major challenge to public health and efforts to ‘flatten the curve’ have required unprecedented limitations on civil liberties. At the same time, disinformation has proliferated on social media, which threatens public understanding and, potentially, willingness to comply with health measures.

The nature of this disinformation is wide-ranging encompassing conspiracy theories about biological weapons and the 5G network to false claims about cures and preventatives. Disinformation is especially troubling in times of crisis because it may encourage people to turn to ineffective or even harmful treatments and to disregard public health measures. Currently, we do not know the extent to which ordinary people give credence to disinformation claims or which sources are best placed to correct false beliefs.  To address these issues, the researchers will run an experimental survey in Ireland and the US.

DCU’s Covid-19 Research and Innovation Hub is overseen by Professor Christine Loscher and the projects address five key areas: technologies for rapid diagnostics for Covid-19; responding to the challenges faced by frontline healthcare workers; developing novel solutions to enhance the national testing strategy; mitigating the impact on organisations, workers and the economy; and tackling societal issues in a Covid-19 world (education, business, the citizen).

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