, 2022-10-12 07:01:00,
Ever since the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, we — and we do mean “we” as in “literally all of us” — have been deeply concerned about the quality of information that people were consuming on the issue. Conspiracy theories have abounded since spring 2020, and despite the urgings of the UN secretary-general and the WHO, among others, information about the pandemic in general and vaccines in particular has continued to resemble a minefield.
But the availability of junk information by itself does not an “infodemic” make. There are other steps in the influence of low-quality information that have often been assumed but perhaps not yet sufficiently empirically tested: To what degree are people consuming that junk information compared with higher-quality news? To what extent are people being cocooned in echo chambers reaffirming existing Covid-19 beliefs? And what influence is that information having on their support for pandemic mitigation efforts?
We’re starting to get some solid initial data to answer those questions, with three studies on those issues published in the past six weeks. The answers from those studies are complex and nuanced (as always), but on the whole, things may not have been quite as bad as we feared.
First, Sacha Altay and two colleagues at Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and Richard Fletcher, published a paper (available for free from the Journal of Quantitative…
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