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Why disinformation has flourished during the pandemic
Temporal behavior of the fractions of Searches and News from All Sources in Italy. The Searches (red, left y axis) and News from All Sources (blue, right y axis) for the keyword "coronavirus" were recorded from 6 December 2019 to 31 August 2020. Searches are reported as a percentage of the maximum observed in the monitored period. News from All Sources is represented by the daily fraction of articles containing at least three keyword occurrences (see Methods). The improved model (black line) leverages the past News from All Sources and Searches, together with present Searches, to infer the dynamics of News from All Sources. Credit: Nature Human Behaviour (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-022-01353-3

A small team of researchers at Sony Computer Science Laboratories in France studied why misinformation flourished during the global Pandemic. In a paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, Pietro Gravino, Giulio Prevedello, Martina Galletti, and Vittorio Loretom looked into the supply and demand of COVID-19 news during the Pandemic.

The medical community has responded to the threat of the global Pandemic in a number of ways, one of which is the constant stream of misinformation attributed to the virus and the people who were being infections. Misinformation has flourished from ridiculous claims to baseless claims. The researchers wondered why this had been happening and they looked at the sources of news, both reliable and unreliable, as participants in a supply and demand news ecosystems.

The work began by obtaining articles from Italian media sources in a public database. They were able to separate news sources by their reliability by retrieving information from a database of articles. The supply side of the system was constituted by all such articles.

The researchers looked at search trends to learn more about the demand for information. To compare supply and demand for news, the researchers looked at searches conducted by people looking for information and compared them with the responses that were available from the news sources. The researchers found that the news sources that were generally unreliable were more responsive to new information than the more traditional and reliable sources.

The end result was higher visibility for unreliable sources, which in turn led to widespread misinformation gaining traction, and ultimately, acceptance, according to the researchers.

More information: Pietro Gravino et al, The supply and demand of news during COVID-19 and assessment of questionable sources production, Nature Human Behaviour (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-022-01353-3 Journal information: Nature Human Behaviour

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Citation: Why disinformation has flourished during the pandemic (2022, May 25) retrieved 25 May 2022 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.