Widespread fake news on medical issues can be dangerous for individuals and populations. However, conspiracy theories and misinformation about the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 abound. Our project therefore focuses on investigating the informedness of the Swiss population in the event of pandemics and addresses several topical and methodological issues.
1) Research the informedness of the Swiss population, especially what fake news the Swiss population believes in, where they obtained it from, and how it can be typified;
2) Go beyond the traditional survey methodology and investigate what we can learn from including different stakeholders in the analysis and interpretation of the survey data;
3) Gain insights into the spread of scientific misinformation in general at the example of COVID-19 fake news in Switzerland.
In a first project step, we will conduct a representative online survey on the informedness of the Swiss with regard to the coronavirus. The focus is on gathering data on dimensions of fake news. Then, for the analysis, we will rely on traditional quantitative and qualitative survey analysis, as well as on “citizen science” in form of co-creation workshops. We will invite non-expert individuals to contribute to the qualitative analysis and interpretation stage. During co-creation workshops, participants will have the opportunity to engage with the survey data and are encouraged to discuss possible classifications for both the fake news and the people sharing fake news. Not only the final suggestions but also the justifications and deliberations occurring during the workshop will feed back into the project and enrich future analyses.
The citizen science approach is a win-win situation, as it will not only enrich the scientific project, but also bring together different stakeholders. In particular, the co-creation workshops will create the opportunity for the Swiss Young Academy to engage with existing actors at the intersection of academic research and civil society.
The project promotes inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration. Firstly, the project team consists of members with a diverse disciplinary background and rich experience in trans- and interdisciplinary work. Secondly, the aforementioned survey and co-creation workshops will actively include non-scientific members of the public in the assessment and discussion of the project.
Basically, our project is about generating and disseminating knowledge about which fake news is spread in Switzerland. The goal is to use the knowledge in future crises and to generally counter the distribution of fake news in Switzerland better, faster, and more efficiently. The project will contribute to being better prepared for the next epidemic and crisis with effective and more target-group-specific communication and to fight fast-spreading fake news.