In July 2021, Dr. Vivek Murthy became the first U.S. Surgeon General to declare health misinformation a public health crisis. Specifically, COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and disinformation on social media greatly affects vaccination rates in certain populations. Rapid increases in reliable health information about COVID-19 can be overshadowed by the spread of even greater amounts of misinformation, leading to an ‘infodemic.’
The World Health Organization defines an infodemic as:
“… too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak. It causes confusion and risk-taking behaviours that can harm health. It also leads to mistrust in health authorities and undermines the public health response. An infodemic can intensify or lengthen outbreaks when people are unsure about what they need to do to protect their health and the health of people around them.”
INFODEMIC Conference on Social Media and COVID-19 Misinformation
On August 26, 2021, Stanford University’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Ethics, Society, and Technology Hub co-sponsored a unique conference to address this issue, “INFODEMIC: A Stanford Conference on Social Media and COVID-19 Misinformation.” Speakers presented virtually from around the world including experts in social media, health policy, ethics, and medicine. The conference focused on the causes of COVID-19 misinformation and mitigation strategies. Vaccine Confidence, Vaccine Hesitancy, and Vaccine Equity were among the main topics of the meeting. INFODEMIC also featured representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter, as well as physician influencers, to discuss the role of social media companies to address misinformation online.
Below are recordings of each of the INFODEMIC conference presentations, presented as podcasts. Video recordings of these presentations are also available to view online. The conference agenda and featured speakers are listed on the Stanford INFODEMIC website.