Fake and false news about COVID is everywhere online, leaving millions of people unsure what is true and what is not. These activities ask you to distinguish fake news about COVID-19 from the truthful and reliable information and develop guidance for students and community members in evaluating news about the continuing pandemic.
There has been an array of fake and false claims in the media about the severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to very different responses by people throughout the country to government-based COVID-19 policies and recommendations (e.g., mask requirements, lockdown, social distancing, vaccinations).
In one of the first studies to look at the impact of fake news on people's behaviors in 2021, researchers at the University College Dublin found that reading a fabricated news story (e.g., "certain foods will protect you against COVID-19" or "vaccines are not safe") just once could produce a small, but measurable change in how people intended to act toward the virus. Left unexamined by this study was the potential impact of repeated exposure to pandemic-related misinformation on people's thinking and acting.
Activity 1: Counter False News About COVID-19
It is the current year and you have just been selected to serve as President Biden's pandemic information media director. The President has been struggling to maintain vaccination rates across the country against new COVID variants and he has asked you to use your research and marketing skills to educate individuals who do not believe in or understand the risks of the COVID-19 virus.
Identify individuals or groups who might not believe in the severity of the COVID-19 virus or think the virus is a hoax.
Conduct Internet research and survey family and community members to identify possible explanations for why these individuals/groups developed inaccurate opinions about COVID-19 and what can be done about it.
Then, explore the following resources to learn how to create persuasive scientific media: