Accuracy nudge’ could curtail COVID-19 misinformation online

MIT Sloan: “On February 19 in the Ukrainian town of Novi Sanzhary, alarm went up regarding the new coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes. “50 infected people from China are being brought to our sanitarium,” began a widely read post on the messaging app Viber. “We can’t afford to let them destroy our population, we must prevent countless deaths. People, rise up. We all have children!!!”

Soon after came another message: “if we sleep this night, then we will wake up dead.”

Citizens mobilized. Roads were barricaded. Tensions escalated. Riots broke out, ultimately injuring nine police officers and leading to the arrests of 24 people. Later, word emerged that the news was false.

As the director-general of the World Health Organization recently put it, “we’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic.”

Now a new study suggests that an “accuracy nudge” from social media networks could curtail the spread of misinformation about COVID-19. The working paper, from researchers at MIT Sloan and the University of Regina, examines how and why misinformation about COVID-19 spreads on social media. The researchers also examine a simple intervention that could slow this spread. (The paper builds on prior work about how misinformation diffuses online.)…(More)”.