Tackling Rumors and Misinformation During a Pandemic

Rumors and misinformation spreading through social media and other channels have been ongoing issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, these developments have affected confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines and confidence in science more generally. But how do these rumors get started? And, critically, how do we tackle these challenges? 

Fortunately, there are researchers who are working every day to examine these issues. Heidi Larson, PhD, professor of anthropology, risk and decision science and the founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, is one of these researchers. I was fortunate to interview her for our latest episode of the Contagious Conversations podcast. In this episode, we discuss the spread of misinformation about COVID-19, how we can better understand misinformation and how we can help stop its spread.

It was fascinating to hear Dr. Larson’s perspective and learn more about her research. The Vaccine Confidence Project involves analysts from a variety of specialties who are monitoring news sites and social media in more than 100 languages and then strategizing with local health groups about how to tackle the rumors they find. This is a truly unique and vital mission right now in our world.

I encourage everyone to listen to this latest episode and learn more about how rumors start, the importance of taking time to understand the source of rumors and misinformation, and how we can all help stop the spread.

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Claire Stinson is a communications officer for the CDC Foundation.