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Addressing Health Misinformation at the Scale of the Internet

Class Details

The world now has more internet users than people with access to essential health services such as primary care, dental care, or surgery. Exacerbated through the COVID-19 pandemic, populations around the world experience limited availability of in-person health providers or services for certain health conditions, and as a result, the internet plays a crucial role in mediating access to health through access to information. However, the consequences of online health information have never been more pertinent.

In this session, we will focus on the unique role that health practitioners, experts and library systems can play in responding to related challenges. We will review existing interventions that social media platforms are deploying to try to address health misinformation at global, internet scales, the strengths and limitations of these approaches, and how physicians of the future can contribute to a healthier online information ecosystem. Further, as the shape of health misinformation on social media platforms evolves situationally across geography, demographics, and subject matter, public health expertise must be better integrated into the design of content moderation interventions on these platforms. For public health experts to make informed and achievable recommendations, however, they must be familiar with the affordances of social media platforms that enable or limit interventions to mitigate the spread and impact of health misinformation.

Learning Objectives

1. The unique role that public health expertise and public health resources play in responding to online misinformation
2. To examine existing infrastructures that platforms (Facebook, Google, WhatsApp) have developed for responding to misinformation
3. To identify content moderation interventions that have been previously and currently employed by social media platforms to respond to different types of misinformation
4. To examine the constraints and trade-offs of different moderation strategies.

Speaker Information

Nat Gyenes is Director of the Digital Health Lab at technology not-for-profit Meedan. Over the last decade, Nat has worked with the World Health Organization, the MIT Media Lab, with the UN Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, and with the FXB Centre for Health and Human Rights on issues of digital health information inequity, and has supported health misinformation response efforts with technology platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google.

Kat Lo is the content moderation lead at Meedan and research affiliate at the UC Irvine Center for Responsible, Ethical, and Accessible Technology. She works with social media companies and civil society groups to research content moderation interventions for online hate, violence, and misinformation.

Monday, March 22, 2021
1:00pm - 2:00pm
Region/Office: National
Mar 22, 2021
1:00PM - 2:00PM ET

Online health misinformation is a widespread problem, with false or misleading information about both longstanding health concerns like cancer and emergent situations like the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the internet at a rapid pace. Sometimes questionable health information is obvious, but it can also be difficult to recognize and can potentially reach millions of people. This series brings expert speakers to discuss various aspects of online health misinformation, how to identify it, and how to help curb its spread.


After listening to the guest speaker and participating in webinar chat and polls, participants will be able to :

  1. Identify aspects of misinformation and its effect on online health information
  2. Recognize the impact of misinformation on health literacy
  3. Describe and reflect on the effectiveness of methods used to curb the spread of health misinformation in online environments