The COVID-19 Infodemic and the Efficacy of Interventions Intended to Reduce Misinformation

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The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted social media platforms to take unprecedented steps - ranging from false tags to journalistic factchecks - to stanch the flow of misinformation that could pose a health risk. However, there is little evidence about the relative efficacy of these approaches in this unique context of a pandemic. Using a pair of survey experiments, we examine whether false tags and journalistic factchecks reduce accuracy misperceptions and sharing propensity on social media that can spread false claims. False tags had little effect on subjects' accuracy assessments and social media sharing. Journalistic factchecks that offer accurate information to counter misinformation were more effective in reducing both misperceptions and sharing on social media. Further, we find no evidence of partisan backfire effects, even in response to interventions against claims with a plausible partisan valence. Our results suggest that journalistic factchecks provide an effective counternarrative to COVID-19 misinformation even in the context of the increasing politicization of America's pandemic response and polarization more generally.




Kreps, S. E., & Kriner, D. L. (2022). The COVID-19 Infodemic and the Efficacy of Interventions Intended to Reduce Misinformation. Public Opinion Quarterly, 86(1), 162–175.

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