What the CDC can learn from Wikipedia about health information delivery

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As the U.S. grapples with the "infodemic" of misinformation and half-truths related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it should look to platforms like Wikipedia as a solution for better communicating with the public, according to one researcher. 

In a July 21 article published by The Atlantic, Renée DiResta, a technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, suggested that the CDC look to Wikipedia as a model for combating misinformation online and getting the facts out to the public. A Wikipedia-type model would be a positive alternative to the official establishment's previous efforts, such as press releases, which have made the infodemic worse, Ms. DiResta wrote. 

The U.S. needs a better system to fight misinformation and communicate with the public; a model that can keep up with continuous changes in scientific knowledge and incorporates expertise from people in various fields, not just officials from well-known institutions. 

"If an agency such as the CDC launched a health-information site, and gave a community of hundreds or thousands of knowledgeable people the ability to edit it, the outcome would be far more complete and up-to-date than individual press releases," Ms. DiResta wrote. "The same model—tapping distributed expertise rather than relying on institutional authority—could be useful for other government agencies that find themselves confronting rumors." 

Tech platforms have rolled out efforts to combat misinformation by amplifying official resources, but linking to the CDC's and WHO's official sites is not resonating with many audiences, according to the report. Internet users have shown trust for crowdsourced information, so creating a way to collectively showcase this information "is a matter of urgency," according to Ms. DiResta. 

Click here to view the full report.

 

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