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COVID-19 Misinformation Online and Health Literacy: A Brief Overview

1
Department of Library & Information Science, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur 63100, Pakistan
2
Information Management School, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510006, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Michael Stellefson
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(15), 8091; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158091
Received: 8 July 2021 / Revised: 21 July 2021 / Accepted: 29 July 2021 / Published: 30 July 2021
Low digital health literacy affects large percentages of populations around the world and is a direct contributor to the spread of COVID-19-related online misinformation (together with bots). The ease and ‘viral’ nature of social media sharing further complicate the situation. This paper provides a quick overview of the magnitude of the problem of COVID-19 misinformation on social media, its devastating effects, and its intricate relation to digital health literacy. The main strategies, methods and services that can be used to detect and prevent the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, including machine learning-based approaches, health literacy guidelines, checklists, mythbusters and fact-checkers, are then briefly reviewed. Given the complexity of the COVID-19 infodemic, it is very unlikely that any of these approaches or tools will be fully effective alone in stopping the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. Instead, a mixed, synergistic approach, combining the best of these strategies, methods, and services together, is highly recommended in tackling online health misinformation, and mitigating its negative effects in COVID-19 and future pandemics. Furthermore, techniques and tools should ideally focus on evaluating both the message (information content) and the messenger (information author/source) and not just rely on assessing the latter as a quick and easy proxy for the trustworthiness and truthfulness of the former. Surveying and improving population digital health literacy levels are also essential for future infodemic preparedness. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; infodemic; misinformation; disinformation; social media; health literacy; digital health literacy COVID-19; infodemic; misinformation; disinformation; social media; health literacy; digital health literacy
MDPI and ACS Style

Bin Naeem, S.; Kamel Boulos, M.N. COVID-19 Misinformation Online and Health Literacy: A Brief Overview. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 8091. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158091

AMA Style

Bin Naeem S, Kamel Boulos MN. COVID-19 Misinformation Online and Health Literacy: A Brief Overview. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(15):8091. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158091

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bin Naeem, Salman, and Maged N. Kamel Boulos. 2021. "COVID-19 Misinformation Online and Health Literacy: A Brief Overview" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 15: 8091. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158091

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