Misinformation during pandemic highlights role of media

A team of communication researchers from NTU Singapore’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information has found that as the type of COVID-19 misinformation rectified by Singapore’s mainstream news media evolved over the course of the pandemic, the role played by the media in debunking those myths became increasingly important to citizens in the nation’s fight to manage the outbreak.

The team observed that news reports correcting science and health-related COVID-19 misinformation were dominant at the start of the outbreak due to the uncertainty surrounding the nature of the coronavirus, but then tapered off over the course of the pandemic’s first four months.

Meanwhile, false information about government policies and measures implemented during the outbreak became increasingly reported on and subsequently corrected.

The type of misinformation that was corrected in mainstream media also evolved over the course of the four months, changing from fabricated misinformation – defined as made-up, completely false claims – to reconfigured misinformation, defined as a mix of authentic and fabricated information.

The study findings highlight how public health crises like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can be the perfect breeding ground for misinformation, as well as the potential for mainstream media to play an important role in debunking myths as part of the nation’s wider pandemic efforts.

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