What We Do and Why it Matters
We provide users with accurate and real information surrounding the global pandemic
While Social Media is a powerful tool for spreading awareness around certain issues, when it comes to COVID-19, social media and the stakeholders within these companies have created a platform to easily share false information regarding the virus which continues to spread misinformation making it harder for the public to abide by public health regulation.
In short, having social media sites’ algorithms spread misinformation is unsustainable in the long run. Coupled with the fact that it has the potential to make public health crises even worse and to exacerbate them only makes misinformation an unsustainable, or “wicked” problem, as described in lecture.
In the age of coronavirus, having misinformation spread is directly putting lives at risk, and with the advent of a number of tense events such as the election and a summer full of unrest, it is more crucial and current than ever to control and limit the spread of misinformation.
This problem came about with the advent of social media companies and the lack of regulation to limit the spread of harmful, false information. With Congress’s old age and inability to pass meaningful legislation, the growth of social media companies and of misinformation has grown unabated throughout the decade.
Our solution is to create a podcast and website in which we have an open and honest conversation with product managers and product specialists at these social media companies to talk about potential ways to ensure the most accurate information surrounding the virus is highlighted on their platforms. Further, we will host these podcast videos on our site (this one) where users can also read up-to-date news and analysis surrounding COVID, from public health professionals.
We hope that this website and the resources on it will serve as a conversation-starter for introducing some sort of regulation and guidelines to make sure that social media companies can grow within a regulatory framework to ensure that they do not censor individuals, while also limiting the spread of misinformation.
There are multiple barriers for meaningful regulation to occur in the industry, namely the financial interests of companies, the political interests of politicians, and the fact that the digital space is fairly new. In order to overcome these barriers, all parties involved will have to be able to compromise and give up something in order to reach the common goal of ensuring that misinformation spread is limited and that social media can work better to accomplish its initial goal, which is to connect people and allow the spread of information.
Analysis + Public Health
Social media is a powerful tool of the 21st century for connecting people, but it also has become an even more powerful tool for spreading information, and even more consequential in a negative way, misinformation. We wanted to examine this issue because of its solid foundation in technology, which many of us have an interest in. This is also an example of how technology has created new problems that must be dealt with in order to allow public health regulations to work.
Additionally, social media is a phenomenon that is brand new and that our generation has been one of the first to experience growing up, meaning that our generation will be the first to examine the effects of social media and hopefully we will be able to fix some of the issues that have come up with social media.
Social media and misinformation campaigns are often closely aligned with certain political and social groups, and so at a time where American democracy is hanging on the brink, fixing social media issues is not only in the interest of public health, but in the political system as well.