Infodemic: Combatting COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories

  • Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:0 publications

Grant number: AH/V008706/1

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Key facts

  • Disease

    COVID-19
  • Start & end year

    2020
    2021
  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

    $291,298.15
  • Funder

    UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

    Pending
  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    The University of Manchester
  • Research Category

    Policies for public health, disease control & community resilience

  • Research Subcategory

    Communication

  • Special Interest Tags

    Gender

  • Study Subject

    Non-Clinical

  • Clinical Trial Details

    N/A

  • Broad Policy Alignment

    Pending

  • Age Group

    Unspecified

  • Vulnerable Population

    Unspecified

  • Occupations of Interest

    Unspecified

Abstract

Responding to the WHO's warning that misinformation surrounding COVID-19 constitute an 'infodemic', this project will focus on conspiracy theories as a particularly harmful kind of misinformation. Our research will lead to improved strategies for combatting the spread of conspiracy theories in the pandemic. It will use methods from digital humanities and cultural studies to map how these narratives circulate in the online environment during the crisis. We will use data scraping and network visualisation tools on a longitudinal data set extracted from social media platforms in order to identify the mechanisms, vectors and histories of transmission of coronavirus conspiracy theories. We will also employ textual analysis, digital ethnography and political economy to analyse the cultural and political contexts in which these narratives arise. By producing a series of 'snapshot' mappings of this complex online ecosystem, we will be able to analyse how conspiracist misinformation has proliferated during the course of the pandemic, which in turn will enable us to assess the effectiveness of the varying interventions by the social media platforms. We will publish our research findings in a peer-reviewed journal article and short book. In collaboration with the anti-misinformation organisation First Draft, we will communicate our results and recommendations to journalists and the general public in a 'Field Guide to the Infodemic'. Working with the campaigning charity Sense about Science and the Institute of Education, we will produce educational materials for teachers, young people and science communicators confronted with the problem of how to tackle the infodemic.