Published on 12 Oct 2022

Were fears about the “infodemic” overblown?

Nieman Lab, 12 Oct

Ever since the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, we — and we do mean “we” as in “literally all of us” — have been deeply concerned about the quality of information that people were consuming on the issue. But the availability of junk information by itself does not an “infodemic” make.

In a paper by Edson C. Tandoc and Seth Kai Seet, in Journalism Practice, the authors write in this straightforward and important piece of research, “the terms people use matter.” The authors, both from NTU Singapore, used an online survey of 1,015 people with a nationally representative adult sample. The participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups based on the wording used in the questionnaire, split virtually equally between fake news, misinformation, disinformation and online falsehoods.