Our work is informed by the latest research on misinformation, psychology, science communication, and social media.

Check below for summaries of recent research and debunking resources, provided by the University of Alberta’s Health Law Institute.

Join us at CSPC 2021!

Science Up First presents a panel on tools and strategies experts use when tackling misinformation. Join us virtually on Thursday, November 25th, from 2:30pm – 4:00pm. All details can be found here. (November 23, 2021)

Does format matter when correcting misinformation?

It has long been suggested that how correct information is presented can impact the effectiveness of a debunk. For example, many recommend the use of a “truth sandwich” (facts followed by the corrected misinformation followed by the facts). But an interesting new study (still a preprint) finds that format really doesn’t matter. Good content is the key! (November 23, 2021)

Huge portion of U.S. population influenced by misinformation.

 A recent survey found that 78% of Americans believe or are not sure about at least one piece of misinformation about COVID, such as the (very) incorrect ideas that the vaccines cause infertility or that the government is hiding deaths from the vaccines. It’s so important to continue to counter this kind of misinformation! (November 23, 2021)

Take a break from the noise!

We live in a very chaotic information environment! While it is important to use credible sources to stay informed, it is also important to avoid information overload. A new study found that in “a pandemic such as Covid-19 news consumers need to be informed, but avoiding news is sometimes necessary to stay mentally healthy.” (October 21, 2021)

Avoid the doom-scrolling!

Researchers found that just two to four minutes of COVID related news scrolling “led to immediate and significant reductions in positive affect and optimism.” Remember to occasionally put down the phone! (October 21, 2021)

Social media is a BIG part of the problem

Studies have consistently found that social media is a major force driving the spread of misinformation. A new study adds to the growing body of literature finding that 85% of COVID misinformation was produced on social media, with Facebook being the biggest source (67%). The study also found that the United States, India and Brazil are the countries most impacted by misinformation. (September 28, 2021)

Misinformation spreads fast and far

An oft-cited study from 2018 found that misinformation travels “farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth” – in part, because lies are often more interesting than facts. A more recent analysis came to a similar conclusion, finding that misinformation on Facebook got six times more “likes, shares, and interactions on the platform as did trustworthy news sources.” (September 28, 2021)

When it comes to misinformation, don’t trust your gut

People who rely on intuition to make decisions are more likely to believe and spread misinformation. But those with “higher analytic thinking levels were less likely to rate COVID-19 misinformation as accurate and were less likely to be willing to share COVID-19 misinformation.” So, remember to pause and apply a bit of critical thinking! (September 28, 2021)

People value efforts to counter misinformation

A study of how the public perceives online corrections of misinformation found that most people broadly endorse and appreciate the practice. Indeed, the majority report not only liking corrections on social media, but see it “as a public responsibility.” This is good news for those countering misinformation – your work is appreciated! (July 26, 2021)

Nudging people to pause and think about accuracy can help

Numerous studies suggest that getting people to pause before they share online material might slow the spread of misinformation. Most people want to be accurate. But, as a recent study found, “people often share misinformation because their attention is focused on factors other than accuracy.” Finding ways to shift attention to accuracy can increase the “quality of news that people subsequently share.” Indeed, there seems to be a range of accuracy prompts that may be effective in this context. (July 26, 2021)

Yes, Debunking Works!

The body of evidence highlighting the value of debunking continues to grow. One recent study found that debunking misinformation online “improved subsequent truth discernment more than providing the same information during (labeling) or before (prebunking) exposure.” Another study also concluded that countering misinformation is effective, particularly if content that is easily sharable on social media and promotes credible facts are utilized. (July 26, 2021)