News on How Misinformation Spreads

What would Facebook’s turn to privacy mean for misinformation? This week Mark Zuckerberg published his “privacy-focused vision” for Facebook, writing, “I expect future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network…I believe we should be working towards a world where people can speak privately and live freely knowing that their […]

When it comes to providing accurate medical information, social media is a hot mess. Reporting by the Guardian and elsewhere over the last few months has revealed many troubling examples: the top searches for vaccines on Amazon turn up anti-vaxx books instead; YouTube purposely keeps viewers on its website by suggesting increasingly conspiratorial content; Facebook […]

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IN 1962 a British political scientist, Bernard Crick, published “In Defence of Politics”. He argued that the art of political horse-trading, far from being shabby, lets people of different beliefs live together in a peaceful, thriving society. In a liberal democracy, nobody gets exactly what he wants, but everyone broadly has the freedom to lead […]

A book that pushes the conspiracy theory Qanon climbed within the top 75 of all books sold on Amazon in recent days, pushed by Amazon’s algorithmically generated recommendations page. “QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening,” which has no stated author, ranked at No. 56 at press time, was featured in the algorithmically generated “Hot […]

When the naturopath Elias Kass testified before a Washington state senate committee on 20 February with a baby on his chest and a pacifier in his hand, he knew that his arguments would be unpopular with the anti-vaccine activists in the room. Amid a measles outbreak that has infected 66 people so far, legislators were […]

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Dissemination of misleading drug information through social media can be detrimental to the health of the public. This study, carried out in Bahrain, evaluated the truthfulness of 22 social media claims about drugs (72.7%), dietary supplements (22.7%), and toxic bisphenol-A (4.5%). They circulated on WhatsApp platform, as case studies. We categorized claims as objectively true, […]

Scepticism about the use of vaccines for children has risen across Europe in line with votes for populists, according to a study, which proposes that public health officials should track populist parties in opinion polls as a proxy signal for vaccine hesitancy. Big surges in the number of measles cases and deaths map to countries […]

End Facebook Pixel Code As Facebook faces rising pressure to remove anti-vaccine conspiracy theories from its recommendations, antivaxxer hoaxes are still getting plenty of engagement on the platform. Over the weekend, the Agence France-Presse debunked a fake news story that claimed an American court had found a link between the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine and autism. The hoax […]

“Miriam J. Metzger is a professor in the Department of Communication at UC Santa Barbara. Her research lies at the intersection of media, information technology, and trust, centering on how information and communication technologies alter our understanding of credibility and force us to confront new challenges in protecting our privacy. She has published work that examines […]

“Deen Freelon is an associate professor in the School of Media and Journalism. His research covers two major areas of scholarship: 1) political expression through digital media and 2) data science and computational methods for analyzing large digital datasets. He has authored or co-authored more than 30 journal articles, book chapters and public reports, in addition […]

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