Focusing on determinants and distribution of health information and misinformation on the internet, and its effect on public and individual health.
JMIR Infodemiology (JI, ISSN 2564-1891, Editor-in-Chief: Tim Ken Mackey) launched in 2021, is a PubMed Central, PubMed, MEDLINE, Scopus, DOAJ, Web of Science, and CABI-indexed, peer-reviewed journal, focusing on infodemiology, the study of determinants and the distribution of health information and misinformation on the internet, and its effect on public and individual health. The new scientific discipline of "Infodemiology," first introduced in 2002, has been gaining momentum due to the COVID-19 infodemic, with the WHO recognizing it as an important pillar to manage public health emergencies. JMIR Publications is proud to have been spearheading the advancement of this new scientific discipline for more than a decade. We are now accelerating the development of this new interdisciplinary discipline with the first and only journal devoted to this rapidly evolving field, by bringing together thought leaders in research, data science, and policy. Areas of interest include information monitoring (infoveillance, including social listening); ehealth literacy and science literacy; knowledge refinement and quality improvement processes and policies; and the influence of political and commercial interests on effective knowledge translation.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted global behavioral restrictions, impacting public mental health. Sentiment analysis, a tool for assessing individual and public emotions from text data, gained importance amid the pandemic. This study focuses on Japan’s early public health interventions during COVID-19, utilizing sentiment analysis in infodemiology to gauge public sentiment on social media regarding these interventions.
Health agencies have been widely adopting social media to disseminate important information, educate the public on emerging health issues, and understand public opinions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) widely used social media platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic to communicate with the public and mitigate the disease in the United States. It is crucial to understand the relationships between the CDC’s social media communications and the actual epidemic metrics to improve public health agencies’ communication strategies during health emergencies.
Traditionally, surveys are conducted to answer questions related to public health but can be costly to execute. However, the information that researchers aim to extract from surveys could potentially be retrieved from social media, which possesses data that are highly accessible and lower in cost to collect.
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated rapid real-time surveillance of epidemiological data to advise governments and the public, but the accuracy of these data depends on myriad auxiliary assumptions, not least accurate reporting of cases by the public. Wastewater monitoring has emerged internationally as an accurate and objective means for assessing disease prevalence with reduced latency and less dependence on public vigilance, reliability, and engagement. How public interest aligns with COVID-19 personal testing data and wastewater monitoring is, however, very poorly characterized.
TikTok is a popular social media platform that allows users to create and share content through short videos. It has become a place for everyday users, especially Generation Z users, to share experiences about their reproductive health. Owing to its growing popularity and easy accessibility, TikTok can help raise awareness for reproductive health issues as well as help destigmatize these conversations.
The rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19 has been linked to a lower uptake of preventive behaviors such as vaccination. Some individuals, however, have been able to resist believing in COVID-19 misinformation. Further, some have acted as information advocates, spreading accurate information and combating misinformation about the pandemic.
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Social media has proven to be valuable for disseminating public health information during pandemics. However, the circulation of misinformation through social media during public health emergencies, such as the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), Ebola, and COVID-19 pandemics, has seriously hampered effective responses, leading to negative consequences. Intentionally misleading and deceptive fake news aims to harm organizations and individuals. To effectively respond to misinformation, governments should strengthen the management of an “infodemic,” which involves monitoring the impact of infodemics through social listening, detecting signals of infodemic spread, mitigating the harmful effects of infodemics, and strengthening the resilience of individuals and communities. The global spread of misinformation requires multisectoral collaboration, such as researchers identifying leading sources of misinformation and superspreaders, media agencies identifying and debunking misinformation, technology platforms reducing the distribution of false or misleading posts and guiding users to health information from credible sources, and governments disseminating clear public health information in partnership with trusted messengers. Additionally, fact-checking has room for improvement through the use of automated checks. Collaboration between governments and fact-checking agencies should also be strengthened via effective and timely debunking mechanisms. Though the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) has yet to define the term “infodemic,” Article 18 of the INB Bureau’s text, developed for the Pandemic Accord, encompasses a range of actions aimed at enhancing infodemic management. The INB Bureau continues to facilitate evidence-informed discussion for an implementable article on infodemic management.
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