Older adults are especially vulnerable to believing and circulating disinformation online, and we want to enable this population to use social media more responsibly. We aim to do that in three ways. First, our research will investigate what kinds of disinformation is most widely believed by older adults – what are the qualities of those messages? Then, we will investigate some of the digital barriers that older adults face and develop training to assist them in evaluating social media messages, with a particular focus on health messaging related to the coronavirus. Third, we will host a conference to highlight the ways various countries have taken steps to curb disinformation. We will highlight the most productive approaches for redressing misinformation among older adults around the world and share policy recommendations within the US security and policy structures. A White Paper will be drafted at the conference. These approaches will enable us to expand knowledge about how dis- and misinformation operate in social media environments, how platform regulations or AI might be tailored to counter these problems, and how older adults might be trained to improve their social media encounters.
Sharon Strover (School of Journalism), Tricia Moravec (Department of Information, Risk, and Operations Management), Matt Lease (School of Information), Samuel Woolley (School of Journalism) and Jaewon Choi (Radio-Television-Film)