October 17, 2021

Journal Article: “Bots and Misinformation Spread on Social Media: Implications for COVID-19”

The article linked to below was recently published by the Journal of Medical Information Research (JMIR).

Title

Bots and Misinformation Spread on Social Media: Implications for COVID-19

Authors

McKenzie Himelein-Wachowiak, BA
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Salvatore Giorgi, MSc
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse
University of Pennsylvania

Amanda Devoto, PhD
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Muhammad Rahman, PhD
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Lyle Ungar, PhD
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse
University of Pennsylvania

H Andrew Schwartz, PhD
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse
Stony Brook Unversity

David H Epstein, PhD
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Lorenzo Leggio, MD, PhD
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Brenda Curtis, MSPH, PhD
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Source

J Med Internet Res 2021;23(5):e26933
DOI: 10.2196/26933
PMID: 33882014

Abstract

As of March 2021, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been responsible for over 115 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, resulting in over 2.5 million deaths. As the virus spread exponentially, so did its media coverage, resulting in a proliferation of conflicting information on social media platforms—a so-called “infodemic.” In this viewpoint, we survey past literature investigating the role of automated accounts, or “bots,” in spreading such misinformation, drawing connections to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also review strategies used by bots to spread (mis)information and examine the potential origins of bots. We conclude by conducting and presenting a secondary analysis of data sets of known bots in which we find that up to 66% of bots are discussing COVID-19. The proliferation of COVID-19 (mis)information by bots, coupled with human susceptibility to believing and sharing misinformation, may well impact the course of the pandemic.

Direct to Full Text Article

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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