We are developing a standard of care for responding to misinfodemics. This involves:
to improve public health through digital innovation, participatory methods, and equity-centered design.
of health practitioners, researchers, journalists, and activists and end-users actively engaged in reducing health misinformation, to support fact-checking organizations and to ensure that health content online is engaging, relevant, safe and accessible.
preparing practitoners with a set of principles, processes and approaches for health communications and corrections that align with established public health standards of care, and are specific to the distinct and significant risks associated with health misinformation.
for designing equity-centered health communications outputs and strengthening misinfodemic response efforts.
As organizations around the world are working to reduce the impact of problematic health misinformation, fact-checking is an increasing part of the conversation. Responding to health misinformation requires specific, accessible, tailored and practical information without compromising the safety or privacy of target audiences. This set of projects examines the unique elements of health-specific fact-checking, and the need for an entirely new, collaborative digital response framework for addressing health misinformation.
Artificial intelligence techniques may help establish early warning, monitoring and evaluation systems for digital content. In collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Oxford Internet Institute, we are examining how new methodologies can be used by public health organizations looking to monitor and detect misinfodemics, determine what topics within the realm of health misinformation to prioritize in intervention designs, and evaluate programs.
Ensuring efficacious misinfodemic response involves preparing practitioners for addressing complex digital health misinformation, a special category of information with specific and serious associated risks. This work serves to develop, facilitate, and provide resources for implementing collaborative digital health misinformation responses across sectors that align with the safety, privacy, efficacy, and access standards representative of public health duties of care, and to enhance preparedness capacity for organizations around the world.
With increases in health misinformation spreading through private messaging channels, in forums, and on social media, responses are required at scales larger than ever before. Vulnerable communities disproportionately affected by health misinformation stand at greatest risk of further marginalization, stigmatization, inequitable access to response efforts, and compromised safety. This work investigates the limited infrastructure for ethics and accountability in misinfodemic response, and, in collaboration with public health researchers and journalists, is prototyping a set of ethical guidelines to strengthen equitable health communications efforts.
Here are some resources and facilitation guides that can help guide and strengthen equity-centered health misinformation response efforts.
The world now has more internet users than people with access to essential health services such as primary care, dental care, or surgery. As the ease of online connectivity increases, we should expect more and more individuals to use online content as a primary source of sometimes critical health information. With limited availability of in-person health providers or services for certain health conditions, the internet plays a crucial role in mediating access to health - and fact-checking is increasingly a part of that conversation. Strengthening the infrastructure and resources that fact-checkers need to adequately address high risk, low-quality health content must be a priority.
In this primer, we highlight the importance of standardized sets of principles to optimize for fact-checks that translate into improved health literacy and positive health outcomes, and don’t exacerbate mistrust, inequalities or risks.
Borrowing from cybersecurity preparedness workshops and epidemic simulations, we have developed a series of exercises for journalists, health practitioners, medical and public health students, human rights advocates and community-based organizations. Our workshops are designed to cultivate a deeper understanding of how challenging addressing digital health misinformation can be, and to collaborate in the development of new response pathways.
Stories covering the projects we’re working on at Meedan’s Digital Health Lab.
[… ]our understanding of exactly how digital infections happen remains focused more on symptoms, looking at the number of shares a given vaccine-hesitancy tweet receives, than on some of the underlying causes, such as the digital infrastructure that makes some internet users more susceptible to encountering false information about immunization. Research demonstrates that public-health digital outreach uses a lot of language and strategies that are inaccessible to the populations it is trying to target. [...] Our work on the Credibility Coalition, an effort to develop web-wide standards around online-content credibility, and Path [now Digital Health Lab], a project aimed at translating and surfacing scientific claims in new ways, as part of two efforts of many to think about data standards and information access across different platforms.
Misinformation—and what Gyenes [and Mina] calls misinfodemics—are a huge threat to public health. The spread of inaccurate health messages has caused deaths during Ebola outbreaks, tooth decay and mass hospitalizations in Australia, and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles in New York. A new project at Meedan called Path [now Digital Health Lab] aims to change this by improving information quality, access, diversity, and representation in health data infrastructure.
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