In response to the continued spread of rumors and misinformation regarding COVID-19 on the internet and social media, Professor Meeyoung Cha from the School of Computing has launched a global anti-rumor campaign called “Facts before Rumors”. The main goal of the campaign is to deliver accurate coronavirus information to the masses, particularly to people in countries where the number of COVID-19 cases is just starting to increase rapidly.
Professor Cha is a chief investigator in the Pioneer Research Center for Mathematical and Computational Sciences at the Institute of Basic Science (IBS), and has recently joined the COVID-19 AI Task Force at the Global Strategy Institute at KAIST. Her research interests include network science, computational social science, and statistical inference.
For this campaign, her research team collaborated with the College of Nursing at Ewha Womans University. They gathered more than 200 rumors circulating on the internet and by word of mouth based on more than 1,000 survey responses. The rumors also spread on different levels: some appeared to only be transmitted locally in certain regions, while others spread internationally.
The team grouped the rumors into similar categories. After filtering out conspiracies, political issues, and celebrity gossip, they identified 15 key claims that they confirmed or debunked in the infographic designed by Kun-Woo Kim, a master’s student from the Department of Industrial Design. All the messages presented in the infographic have been fact-checked and cross-referenced with information from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control in South Korea and the United States.
The team noted that the time periods during which rumors spread differ from country to country, giving the researchers a chance to equip the public with scientifically proven facts even before the rumors start to emerge.