People who use social media for Covid-19 news 'less informed about pandemic'

·2-min read

People who rely on social media for news about Covid-19 are less informed about the pandemic.

A new study has revealed that individuals who use Facebook as their main source of information about coronavirus are less likely to answer Covid-19 related questions correctly.

"The rise of social media has changed the way people around the world keep up with current events, with studies showing that up to 66 per cent of Americans rely on social media for news," said Dr Robert P. Lennon, an author of the study and associate professor of family and community medicine at Penn State College.

"This is worrying, as misinformation and misunderstanding about Covid-19 and how it spreads is likely to have fuelled the pandemic, whose death toll now surpasses 2.5 million worldwide."

For the study, which was published in the Current Medical Research & Opinion journal, 5,948 adults in Pennsylvania were asked a series of questions between 25 and 31 March last year.

Participants were quizzed on where they got their Covid-19 news from and which news sources they trusted most. They were then given 15 questions relating to the virus and asked if they were true or false. Those who listed Facebook as their most trusted source for news were less likely to answer the questions correctly.

The study showed that government websites were the most trusted news sources with 42.8 per cent of the vote, followed by TV with 27.2 per cent.

"Effective communication is a critical element of successfully managing a pandemic response, as for the disease spread to be contained, the public must comply with public health recommendations," Lennon added.

"The first step in compliance is an understanding of those recommendations, so it is vital that health communicators consider how the public get their information and monitor these venues to correct misinformation when it appears."