In the current times of COVID-19 pandemic, the dangers emerging from misinformation have become very clear to everyone threatening social and individual health, societal stability, and Democracy altogether.
EUNOMIA has been developing a socio-technical solution to support social media users to assess the trustworthiness of online information. The tools have been informed by research on human and societal factors that contribute to the consumption and spread of misinformation.
EUNOMIA’s partners Dr Pinelopi Troullinou, Senior Research Analyst at Trilateral Research, and Diotima Bertel, Senior Research at SYNYO GmbH delivered a MOOC-based webinar in November 2021 discussing misinformation on social media. It aimed to inform and raise awareness amongst social media users of the rise of the “infodemic”, explain the societal and human factors contributing to the spread of misinformation, and finally introduce the best practices to support them protecting themselves and their network.
Framing the problem of misinformation is an important step to be able to address it. The facilitators discussed the current issue of misinformation and distinguished between misinformation and other information disorders, such as disinformation and malinformation.
EUNOMIA focuses on misinformation spread mainly by average users with no intention to harm. With the rise of COVID-19, the WHO declared an infodemic which refers to the fast spread of (mis)information through a large community of users. Thus, it becomes increasingly more difficult for users to make decisions about which information to trust.
In this context, the societal and psychological factors that lead us to consume and spread false information were explored explaining how social media users striving for consistency and like-mindedness expose themselves selectively mainly to information that confirms their prior beliefs. These insights support the user to reflect on their online behaviour.
The facilitators also discussed the structural characteristics of social media that amplify the phenomenon of misinformation such as the sharing culture and filter bubbles.
Finally, the facilitators introduced nine simple information hygiene guidelines that users can adopt reducing the risk of acting upon and sharing misinformation to one’s network.
EUNOMIA’s tools have been designed to reflect these guidelines and support social media users to critically engage with online information.
Fifty-five people attended the event which lasted 90 minutes closing with a very engaging discussion with attendees.
The webinar was recorded and can be found here: https://youtu.be/oSIL6dijxWM.