Misinformation and Disinformation: Using Social Media to Combat Them

Reviewed By: S. Shaefer Spires, MD, Duke Center for Antimicrobial Stewardship and Infection Prevention, Durham, NC

This article is one of several fascinating and helpful articles in a May Supplement from CID on Digital Strategy and Social Media in Infectious Diseases. The authors begin with a historical perspective of health information and social media, then explain some of the methods by which information is propagated via social media and encourage us as ID clinicians to play a role in combatting misinformation. Social media algorithms promote content based on the frequency of “likes, reposts, comments, opening hyperlinks”; therefore, the stronger emotional response a particular post elicits, the more likely it will be promoted. Moreover, the social media feeds are curated based on an individual’s engagement and thus can, in turn, form these “information silos” or “echo chambers” where thoughts and beliefs, whether they are scientifically based or not, are largely confirmed and not debated.  Therefore, we in the infectious diseases community cannot shy away from these venues, and this article describes strategies to identify and respond to misinformation via social media.

Desai, Angel N, Diandra Ruidera, Julie M Steinbrink, Bruno Granwehr, and Dong Heun Lee. “Misinformation and Disinformation: The Potential Disadvantages of Social Media in Infectious Disease and How to Combat Them.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 74, no. Supplement_3 (May 15, 2022): e34–39. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciac109

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