Evaluating the Impact of Attempts to Correct Health Misinformation on Social Media: A Meta-Analysis

Nathan Walter*, John J. Brooks, Camille J. Saucier, Sapna Suresh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social media poses a threat to public health by facilitating the spread of misinformation. At the same time, however, social media offers a promising avenue to stem the distribution of false claims–as evidenced by real-time corrections, crowdsourced fact-checking, and algorithmic tagging. Despite the growing attempts to correct misinformation on social media, there is still considerable ambiguity regarding the ability to effectively ameliorate the negative impact of false messages. To address this gap, the current study uses a meta-analysis to evaluate the relative impact of social media interventions designed to correct health-related misinformation (k = 24; N = 6,086). Additionally, the meta-analysis introduces theory-driven moderators that help delineate the effectiveness of social media interventions. The mean effect size of attempts to correct misinformation on social media was positive and significant (d = 0.40, 95% CI [0.25, 0.55], p =.0005) and a publication bias could not be excluded. Interventions were more effective in cases where participants were involved with the health topic, as well as when misinformation was distributed by news organizations (vs. peers) and debunked by experts (vs. non-experts). The findings of this meta-analysis can be used not only to depict the current state of the literature but also to prescribe specific recommendations to better address the proliferation of health misinformation on social media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1776-1784
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Communication
Volume36
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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