Fighting fake news in the COVID-19 era: Policy insights from an equilibrium model

Kris HARTLEY, Minh Khuong VU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed structural failures in governance and coordination on a global scale. With related policy interventions dependent on verifiable evidence, pandemics require governments to not only consider the input of experts but also ensure that science is translated for public understanding. However, misinformation and fake news, including content shared through social media, compromise the efficacy of evidence-based policy interventions and undermine the credibility of scientific expertise with potentially longer-term consequences. We introduce a formal mathematical model to understand factors influencing the behavior of social media users when encountering fake news. The model illustrates that direct efforts by social media platforms and governments, along with informal pressure from social networks, can reduce the likelihood that users who encounter fake news embrace and further circulate it. This study has implications at a practical level for crisis response in politically fractious settings and at a theoretical level for research about post-truth and the construction of fact. Copyright © 2020 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy Sciences
Early online date09 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 09 Sep 2020

Citation

Hartley, K., & Vu, M. K. (2020). Fighting fake news in the COVID-19 era: Policy insights from an equilibrium model. Policy Sciences. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s11077-020-09405-z

Keywords

  • Fake news
  • Policy sciences
  • Equilibrium model
  • COVID-19

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