Infodemic Project

We are pleased to announce that the Centre for Mathematical Social Science (CMSS) will host the further development of the Infodemic Project, spearheaded by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Prof Dawn Freshwater, and that has completed its Phase 1, under the leadership of Dr Jingwen Mu, in collaboration with several other researchers from the University of Auckland with the involvement of key players from the Association for Pacific-Rim Universities (APRU) as well. Read more about Phase 1 here.

Phase 2 of the Infodemic Project will be led by Dr Simona Fabrizi, co-Director of the CMSS in collaboration with a core team consisting of Dr Jingwen Mu, Dr Eryn Newman and Dr Katja Rangsivek, assisted by the recently hired data scientist and post-doc fellow, Dr Fan Zhang. An Academic Advisory Committee has being established as well, with an inaugural e-meeting planned on Wed, 22 May 2024. Full details of its composition and any updates coming out of that initial meeting will be posted on this page very shortly.

Updates on the project milestones and events associated with it will be posted here. Stay tuned!

Background

The harms caused by misinformation and disinformation associated with the Covid-19 pandemic were so far-reaching that the World Health Organisation (WHO) coined the term ‘infodemic’ to describe it. There is a need to deploy an evidence-based approach to examine the factors driving the infodemic on a global scale. Increased understanding of these factors will enable governments, nations, and the world to prepare for future pandemics and similar global challenges.

Beginning in 2022, the University of Auckland, as part of Asia Pacific Research Universities (APRU) Infodemic Initiative, developed a Misinformation Resilience Index (MRI) in response to this challenge. In Phase 1, researchers carried out a proof of concept for the MRI by using publicly available data on social media usage, trust in science, and legislative actions. The MRI provided a composite score for a population’s exposure and resilience to misinformation. There was a remarkable correlation between the MRI and vaccine uptake. No correlation was found when the MIR was tested with a country’s economic well-being. Case studies in Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore supported the MRI’s feasibility but underscored the need for further refinement. Please find more on the early stage working paper on this project, following this link ‘A Misinformation Resilience Index to Inform Policy and Practice‘.

Phase 2 of the project aims to refine the Misinformation (and Disinformation) Resilience Index (MRI) based on insights from case studies, establish transparent methodologies for the index and data collection, and expand its applicability beyond the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine uptake.