Impediment of Infodemic on Disaster Policy Efficacy: Insights from Location Big Data

Paper by Xiaobin Shen, Natasha Zhang Foutz, and Beibei Li: “Infodemics impede the efficacy of business and public policies, particularly in disastrous times when high-quality information is in the greatest demand. This research proposes a multi-faceted conceptual framework to characterize an infodemic and then empirically assesses its impact on the core mitigation policy of a latest prominent disaster, the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyzing a half million records of COVID-related news media and social media, as well as .2 billion records of location data, via a multitude of methodologies, including text mining and spatio-temporal analytics, we uncover a number of interesting findings. First, the volume of the COVID information incurs an inverted-U-shaped impact on individuals’ compliance with the lockdown policy. That is, a smaller volume encourages the policy compliance, whereas an overwhelming volume discourages compliance, revealing negative ramifications of excessive information about a disaster. Second, novel information boosts policy compliance, signifying the value of offering original and distinctive, instead of redundant, information to the public during a disaster. Third, misinformation exhibits a U-shaped influence unexplored by the literature, deterring policy compliance until a larger amount surfaces, diminishing informational value, escalating public uncertainty. Overall, these findings demonstrate the power of information technology, such as media analytics and location sensing, in disaster management. They also illuminate the significance of strategic information management during disasters and the imperative need for cohesive efforts across governments, media, technology platforms, and the general public to curb future infodemics…(More)”.