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University Awarded Grant to Help Fight Disinformation Surrounding Covid-19

Published on: 19 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 19 Nov, 2021

The University of Surrey has been awarded funding by the British Academy Covid Recovery Grants to help fight the spread of disinformation surrounding Covid-19.

Surrey Business School’s Dr Itziar Castello will lead a project entitled, “Fighting fake news: online disinformation in COVID times”.

The project will analyse the strategies of three organisations to fight disinformation and anti-vaccination discourses online. It is an international project comprising researchers from universities in France, Italy and the UK.

Dr Castello, Senior Lecturer in Digital Economy, said: “Fake news amplifies existential threats posed to societies, recently exemplified by the anti-vaccination movements.

“Using social media analysis, this research identifies discourses adopted by anti-vaccination campaigns and the most effective counter-campaigns to fight online harm and reduce vaccine hesitancy in Italy, France and Ireland. We will analyse the discursive strategies and the cultural, social, legal, and economic factors that might influence the diffusion of misinformation regarding Covid-19.

“Through our expertise in emotional socio-symbolic strategies, we will focus on the role of emotions, not only disseminating fake news but in fighting fake news. We will translate the findings into strategies for policymakers and NGOs to more effectively overcome vaccine hesitancy.

“The findings will also inform the wider regulatory space in the EU, the member states and the UK, where legislative and policy efforts are being made to improve online safety and the accountability of online platforms.”

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Responses to University Awarded Grant to Help Fight Disinformation Surrounding Covid-19

  1. John Perkins Reply

    November 21, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    I’m a little troubled by this. The headline and first couple of paragraphs suggest that the purpose is to combat disinformation and fake news.

    Yet it quickly becomes clear that the target is only anti-vaccination platforms in order to overcome “vaccine hesitancy”. In other words, its purpose is to sell vaccination.

    “Three weeks to flatten the curve etc can all be attributed to inexperience or false optimism. Even claims of the “scientific cavalry” can be seen that way.

    But were not the consistently wrong predictions of SAGE fake news? Or the “tears of joy” shed by a Health Secretary later shown to be an unfaithful husband?

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