Original Research

Mitigating misinformation about the COVID-19 infodemic on social media: A conceptual framework

Sivile Manene, Charity Hove, Liezel Cilliers
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 15, No 1 | a1416 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v15i1.1416 | © 2023 Sivile Manene, Charity Hove, Liezel Cilliers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 October 2022 | Published: 30 May 2023

About the author(s)

Sivile Manene, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa
Charity Hove, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa
Liezel Cilliers, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa

Abstract

During coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the term ‘infodemic’ was used to depict the abundance of information about COVID-19 on social media that may overwhelm users, as well as misinformation about the virus because of the lack of authentication of information posted on social media. Both the World Health Organization and United Nations have warned that infodemics can become a severe threat to health care if misinformation on social media is not addressed in a timely manner. The objective of this study was to develop a conceptual framework that can be used to mitigate misinformation about the COVID-19 infodemic on social media. A structured literature review of purposively sampled scholarly publications from academic databases was conducted. The inclusion criteria chosen were scholarly papers that investigated infodemics on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past 4 years, which were analysed using thematic and content analysis. The conceptual framework used Activity Theory as the theoretical foundation. The framework identifies a set of strategies and activities for both social media platforms and users to mitigate misinformation on social media during a pandemic. This study, therefore, recommends that stakeholders utilise the developed framework on social media to reduce the spread of misinformation.

Contribution: Based on the literature review, there are negative health outcomes during a social media infodemic because of the spread of misinformation on social media. The study concluded that by implementing a set of strategies and activities identified through the framework, health information can be managed on social media to improve health outcomes.


Keywords

infodemic; misinformation; COVID-19; social media; activity theory

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