Pandemic-Incited Intermediated Communication| Citizens’ Strategies for Navigating News and Misinformation in the COVID-19 “Infodemic”

Kate Holland, Sora Park, Kerry McCallum, Emma John, Caroline Fisher, Kieran McGuinness, Jee Young Lee


This article examines citizens’ experiences of and strategies for navigating misinformation on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online and face-to-face focus groups (12 groups with 60 participants) were conducted between February 19 and March 9, 2021, in multiple cities in Australia. Our thematic analysis found that participants encountered a range of misinformation in news media and online platforms, and their responses to it varied. Some actively sought to intervene by challenging and correcting misinformation, while most chose to ignore or block it. Verification practices were also common, but reporting content was rare. Participants generally expressed confidence in their own resilience to misinformation while suggesting attributes that make other people more susceptible. They also acknowledged that what one person perceives as misinformation could be another’s informed opinion. We discuss these findings in the context of scholarship on media literacies in relation to addressing misinformation on social media and online platforms.


misinformation, COVID-19, Australia, media literacy, social media platforms, mistrust

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