Three contextual dimensions of information on social media: lessons learned from the COVID-19 infodemic

Ethics and Information Technology 23:79–86 (2021)
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The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied on social media by an explosion of information disorders such as inaccurate, misleading and irrelevant information. Countermeasures adopted thus far to curb these informational disorders have had limited success because these did not account for the diversity of informational contexts on social media, focusing instead almost exclusively on curating the factual content of user’s posts. However, content-focused measures do not address the primary causes of the infodemic itself, namely the user’s need to post content as a way of making sense of the situation and for gathering reactions of consensus from friends. This paper describes three types of informational context—weak epistemic, strong normative and strong emotional—which have not yet been taken into account by current measures to curb down the informational disorders. I show how these contexts are related to the infodemic and I propose measures for dealing with them for future global crisis situations.

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Lavinia Marin
Delft University of Technology


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