Effective Struggle with Infodemic

About the Project

The novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will claim its place in history not only in terms of health but also in the social sphere with its societal consequences. Besides the effects on international relations and transnational organizations, the pandemic brings about debates on national governance as well as on new forms of societal relations. Some effects of the pandemic are easily observed, while the outcomes of social incidents tend to crystalize fast in a period of tightening time and space. With COVID-19, processes through which people get informed and develop opinions about public incidents, undergo a radical transformation. These processes are considered so critical even to affect the struggle with the pandemic. Thus, the World Health Organization (WHO), coined the term “infodemic” and warned about the pandemic as well as the infodemic.

According to WHO, “infodemic” occurs when the search for reliable resources and guidance in the face of a crisis becomes difficult due to the presence of too much information, partly wrong and partly correct. At such a time, people need guidance to protect themselves and others and to avoid the consequences of the crisis, however, “infodemic” turns into a public health problem because of the obstacles that prevent them from accessing reliable information.
In this context, the project on “Investigating Individuals’ Attitudes towards Misinformation and the Determinants of these Attitudes for an Effective Struggle with Infodemic: The Case of COVID-19”, conducted by Prof. Emre Erdoğan, faculty member of Istanbul Bilgi University Department of International Relations, is supported by TUBITAK 1001-Scientific and Technological Research Projects Assistance Program between July-December 2020.

Through analysing the case of the COVID-19, the project seeks to understand the processes of individuals’ search for information and their attitudes towards misinformation as well as to contribute to the development of prevention mechanisms against infodemic in times of crises.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, and in the future, due to further other epidemics, earthquakes and similar natural disasters and/or political and economic crises, we may experience infodemic again when people would be exposed to misinformation. Therefore, examining the generation and spread of infodemics will contribute to the development of measures and intervention tools to discover and prevent these mechanisms.

The research project will utilize different data collection methods in order to have each stage to inform the coming stages of the study and to draw a comprehensive picture of the situation. The spread of “tweets” encoded in misinformation and other issues will be studied via Twitter data analysis and the clustering of users will be analysed using social network analysis. Via content analysis of news sources, the COVID-19 content of online news sources used by people in Turkey will be analysed. Different methods will be employed in determining these news sources. The field studies will be conducted with in-depth interviews and a survey with a sample of 1,200 people representing the population of Turkey.

Based on information obtained from previous stages in the research, the focus will be on the channels for individuals to obtain information about COVID-19, evaluating these information channels, attitudes towards misinformation and the affecting factors.