Journal Articles

Publication Date



JMIR Infodemiology


BACKGROUND: Despite increasing awareness about and advances in addressing social media misinformation, the free flow of false COVID-19 information has continued, affecting individuals' preventive behaviors, including masking, testing, and vaccine uptake.

OBJECTIVE: In this paper, we describe our multidisciplinary efforts with a specific focus on methods to (1) gather community needs, (2) develop interventions, and (3) conduct large-scale agile and rapid community assessments to examine and combat COVID-19 misinformation.

METHODS: We used the Intervention Mapping framework to perform community needs assessment and develop theory-informed interventions. To supplement these rapid and responsive efforts through large-scale online social listening, we developed a novel methodological framework, comprising qualitative inquiry, computational methods, and quantitative network models to analyze publicly available social media data sets to model content-specific misinformation dynamics and guide content tailoring efforts. As part of community needs assessment, we conducted 11 semistructured interviews, 4 listening sessions, and 3 focus groups with community scientists. Further, we used our data repository with 416,927 COVID-19 social media posts to gather information diffusion patterns through digital channels.

RESULTS: Our results from community needs assessment revealed the complex intertwining of personal, cultural, and social influences of misinformation on individual behaviors and engagement. Our social media interventions resulted in limited community engagement and indicated the need for consumer advocacy and influencer recruitment. The linking of theoretical constructs underlying health behaviors to COVID-19-related social media interactions through semantic and syntactic features using our computational models has revealed frequent interaction typologies in factual and misleading COVID-19 posts and indicated significant differences in network metrics such as degree. The performance of our deep learning classifiers was reasonable, with an F-measure of 0.80 for speech acts and 0.81 for behavior constructs.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study highlights the strengths of community-based field studies and emphasizes the utility of large-scale social media data sets in enabling rapid intervention tailoring to adapt grassroots community interventions to thwart misinformation seeding and spread among minority communities. Implications for consumer advocacy, data governance, and industry incentives are discussed for the sustainable role of social media solutions in public health.


COVID-19, community engagement, deep learning, health belief model, misinformation, social media



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