Dissemination, Situated Fact-checking, and Social Effects of Misinformation among Rural Bangladeshi Villagers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sultana, Sharifa; Fussell, Susan R.
Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction

This paper investigates the dissemination, situated fact-checking processes, and social effects of COVID-19 related online and offline misinformation in rural Bangladeshi life. A six-month-long ethnographic study in three villages found villagers perceived a lack of knowledge and experience among local medical professionals and often fell for flashy promotions of unreliable and unconfirmed cures. Villagers built on their local beliefs and myths, religious faiths, and social justice sensibilities while fact-checking suspicious information. They often reported being misled by misinformation that caters to these values, and they further spread this information through conversations with friends and family. Based on our findings, we argue that CSCW and HCI researchers should study misinformation and situated fact-checking together as a communal practice to design appropriate wellbeing technologies and social media for given communities.