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The causes and consequences of COVID-19 misperceptions: Understanding the role of news and social media


We investigate the relationship between media consumption, misinformation, and important attitudes and behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. We find that comparatively more misinformation circulates on social media platforms, while traditional news media tend to reinforce public health recommendations like social distancing. We find that exposure to social media is associated with misperceptions regarding basic facts about COVID-19 while the inverse is true for news media. These misperceptions are in turn associated with lower compliance with social distancing measures. We thus draw a clear link from misinformation on social media to behaviours and attitudes that potentially magnify the scale and lethality of COVID-19.
Read preprint here
Twitter thread here, with an unrolled version here
The Harvard Kennedy School: Misinformation Review