Webimmunization. How can online social networks create collective resilience against misinformation?
People living in modern, digitized societies have to process an unprecedented amount of online information on a daily basis.
About the project
People living in modern, digitized societies often actively participate in the development and spread of this information through the online social networks they belong to. These changes in the distribution of information have a democratizing potential because they take power away from media companies and governments, and empower a large number of formerly passive consumers, they also bring serious challenges. The spread of false information (colloquially referred to as “fake news”) can undermine a constructive and facts-based public discourse about the big issues of our time.
The spread of misinformation through online social networks can undermine democratic institutions, benefit populism and extremisms, and nurture anti-science skepticism. It is thus important to understand the processes that facilitate the spread of misinformation, and to identify and study ways through which individuals and communities can stop it. Our research project asks the overarching question: what can make online users immune against the spread of misinformation and bad ideas? We call this hypothetical resilience to online misinformation “webimmunity.”
The projects main goal is to develop tools that can reliably assess the immunity of individual actors and entire networks of online users against misinformation. It also aims to test how this webimmunitization influences behavior online and ultimately how it can be increased.
Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, Maj Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland, Poznan University of Technology, Poland.
EEA Norway Grants, 2020-2024.