Surgeon General Launches Research About COVID-19 Misinformation

On March 4, 2020, the U.S. Surgeons General Vivek Murthy has launched an effort to collect data and stories about coronavirus (COVID-19) misinformation. He asked tech companies, health care providers and community organizations to provide their views on how to improve the Affordable Care Act.

The study aims to understand the scope and impact of misinforma­tion during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly related people’s willingness for seeking care and getting vaccinated.

“Misinformation has had a profound impact on COVID-19 and our response,” Murthy told CNN.

“A recent study has shown that most Americans believe some myths about COVID-19, including myths about the COVID-19 vaccines.”

Misinformation about health has led people to decline vaccines and use unproven treatments, which has led them to reject public health measures such a masking and physical distancing. It has also prompted attacks against workers in the health, public health, and air travel industries.

The initiative marks the Obama administration’s first attempt to ask technology companies to share certain data with the public. This data includes details on the major sources of misinformation; how widespread the problem is; and whether certain people have received more attention from social media platforms than others.

The focus is on technology companies with the widest reach in the United States. He wants companies to be more transparent by sharing data with the public

“We” will be looking forward to whatever info they have to share. We’re certainly approaching it with an open mind.

Several technology companies have been discussing ways to improve their products, and his office wants some data on whether these improvements are successful. The information could also be useful for public health researchers trying to understand misinformation about COVID-19.

To help address the problem of health misinformation, Murthy’ s office is looking for stories from health care workers and educators who have seen the effects in their communities. All comments and submissions will be made publicly available at surgeongeneralgov.com/RFI.

“This is a chance to be heard, no matter who or what you are,” it says. “No data set is too big or any story is too small.

Why is this important?

Health misinformation can lead to increased anxiety, distrust of government institutions, mistrust of healthcare professionals, and even rejection of vaccines.

It can also prompt people to take dangerous actions such as not wearing masks or going into crowded places.

In the case of COVID-19 misinformation, there is evidence that it has contributed to the spread of the virus.

For example, one study found that many people were reluctant to wear face coverings because they believed that the virus was transmitted through the eyes.

Another study showed that people who saw inaccurate information about the safety of masks were less likely to wear them.

These findings suggest that the problem of misinformation is real and needs to be addressed.

“There are so many things we don’t know about COVID-19 and its transmission, but we do know that misinformation is having a negative effect,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

“I think it’s very important that we continue to work together to try to find out exactly what is happening and what we need to do to stop it.”

What does the Surgeon General want to see?

Murthy wants tech companies to provide data on the number of posts containing misinformation about COVID- 19, the type of content, where it originated, and if there are differences between different groups of users.

He also wants companies to report on the effectiveness of their efforts to combat misinformation and identify which types of content are most effective in getting people to change their behavior.

He would like to see examples of how companies are working to prevent misinformation, including:

  • How they are identifying and removing false claims
  • What strategies they use to promote accurate information
  • Whether they are using machine learning to detect fake accounts or other methods
  • What policies they have in place to protect against hate speech
  • If they are using third parties to verify information
  • And what steps they are taking to ensure that their algorithms aren’t biased toward certain viewpoints

How might this research affect me?

If you are worried about misinformation spreading on social media, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Always check facts before sharing information online.
  • Do your own research by reading reputable sources.
  • Be skeptical of anything you read online.
  • Don’t believe everything you hear on the news.
  • Avoid rumors and conspiracy theories.
  • If someone shares something that seems suspicious, contact local law enforcement.

The Surgeon General’s Office is committed to helping reduce the impact of health misinformation on our nation’s public health.

You can learn more about the Surgeon General’ s role in addressing health misinformation at www.surgeongeneralgov.gov/health_info/.

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