Misinformation regarding Zika and GMOs on Social Media
Shi Chen, Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences, UNC Charlotte (link)
Social media has become an integral part of public health communication. More and more individuals first resort to social media for information during health crisis and disease outbreaks. While the low cost and easy access of social media make it more convenient for health communicators to disseminate useful information to the general public, they also have the side effect of enabling wide and fast spread of fake health news.
It is critical to understand how fake health news spreads and competes with its real counterpart on social media. We track and compare the information flow dynamics of fake and real health news on Twitter using dynamic network analysis. The tweets, retweets, and comments about the 2016 Zika outbreak are chosen as the research target of this project. Specifically, this project will identify the most popular Zika-related fake news (including those with GMOs) and real news published on Twitter during the year of 2016, construct the information dissemination networks for each of these tweets, compare structural differences between their information dissemination networks, and identify and examine how key users with strategic positions in these networks contribute to the flow of fake and real news about Zika.
An assistant professor of Health Informatics and Analytics at UNC Charlotte, Dr. Chen’s research areas include data analysis and mathematical modeling of healthcare associated infections, vector-borne diseases, and online health information dissemination especially on social media. Some key concepts of Dr. Chen’s research in epidemiology and ecology include heterogeneity, nonlinearity, stochasticity, and complexity. Dr. Chen has been collaborating with scholars in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to investigate how climate and socio-political factors influence nomadic livestock population dynamics in the past 40 years in Inner Mongolia, China. Notably, Dr. Chen holds two PhDs, in both Entomology and Operations Research from Penn State University.