Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, social media usage increased substantially and it is now more important than ever to protect yourself from misinformation.
Yan Su, doctoral candidate in the Murrow College of Communication, found that people were believing COVID-19 was created in a lab and Bill Gates already had access to the vaccine and was going to sell it to the highest bidder.
“I just measured the extent to which they believe it or if they agree with those theories,” he said. “The more they use social media for information seeking [purposes], the more likely they agree that both theories are correct.”
Yan Su found this information on the Pew Research Center’s website.
Su said a good way to protect yourself from misinformation is to check your sources.
News articles usually provide where their information came from, even if the sources are anonymous, said Jordan Foley, assistant professor in the Murrow College.
There has been an increase in social media users in the COVID-19 pandemic. Foley said once everyone started using social media excessively, their lives started looking like social media.
“When we are confined to smaller spaces and most of our world exists on Twitter, then our lives start to look and feel a little bit like Twitter because there’s not as much of the real world for us to really experience,” he said.
It is not safe to use social media as the only influence in our lives, Foley said.
“If you’re not conscious and reflective about how you use social media, then it’s almost always going to be bad for you,” he said.
Foley said the best way to get out of that habit is to just put your phone down or delete an app for a while.
Another way to protect yourself from misinformation is to have a conversation with people about it, Su said. People can have different ideas and information than the original source.
By using social media, people can see other people’s opinions and what they are thinking, Su said.