Tina D Purnat

Public health

Health misinformation

Infodemic management

Digital and health policy

Health information and informatics

Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat

Public health

Health misinformation

Infodemic management

Digital and health policy

Health information and informatics

5/ Public health challenges to look out for and opportunities for factcheckers to help address them

Why does this matter?  Health departments are looking for expertise in this space even though they might not know what to look for or who to partner with because this is such a new space.

People in positions of power in health departments are not digital natives and have little specific understanding of digital information environment and how it affects people’s health but have generalized anxiety about health misinformation and online criticism of their organization.

If you build a strong case for why your organization is a good choice to help address this, grounded in public health language and context, you will increase your changes of getting funded or being included in the funding proposals as a strategic partner.

Health mis-/disinformation is seen as a greater threat to public health.

However, this is sometimes confused with reputation management or the demand for magic dashboards that track misinformation but are utterly useless for public health action.

What a fact-checking organization can do:

  • This is a prime opportunity to present a case for funding your organization or including it as a partner if you write it with a public health frame.
  • Remember you might need to educate your audience and partners.

More health workers are reporting increased threats or harassment, attacks, profile spoofing, and doxing from many countries around the world.

This is driving more efforts to protect health workers from these new online harms, and equipping them to address misinformation with their patients.

What a fact-checking organization can do:

  • The same toolbox journalists and factcheckers use to protect themselves from online harassment and attacks can be adapted for health workers and their employers. 
  • Additionally, health workers need training on how to address misinformation online and offline and with their patients. You can provide that training.

Climate change and how it affects health is getting increasing public attention and funding.

Misinformation on health and climate (animal – human – planetary) continues to grow, including among agriculture workers, people who work outside, and other vulnerable communities.

What a fact-checking organization can do:

  • Health sector is not always the best at bridging with other sectors. You can build partnerships with agencies focused on conservation, environment, and climate as it relates to human health. This comes with new funding sources outside of health.

We live in the age of polycrisis, which almost always has a health component…

… whether it’s wildfires, civil war, mass displacement, elections, mass events gone wrong. Health misinformation, deceptive marketing and alternative cure profiteering will inevitably follow.

What a fact-checking organization can do:

  • Having health expertise and existing partnerships to address health dimensions of these emerging issues, makes you more attractive to funding from health and other domains of society.

Health departments often have digital footprints from the year 2005.

This really undercuts the need to improve the credibility and quality of health information available to successful address information gaps and misinformation.

What a fact-checking organization can do:

  • Offer to audit the health information and processes of a health department including website and social media presences, and
  • make recommendations for improvement, including SEO, accessibility, usability, metadata, how to public mythbusters page useful for factcheckers and journalists, and publish and disseminate prebunking content across website and social media networks.

Health departments are worried about politicization of health and hijacking in disinformation influence campaigns.

What a fact-checking organization can do:

  • Offer to help investigate and respond to health disinformation and reputational attacks.

There is a push to improve how to understand information environment related to health…

… in public health social listening or infodemic insights report, which is generated by a team in a health department/organization. They need data sources.

What a fact-checking organization can do:

  • Your data can input into this process, and can be formatted to be shared and used in integrated analysis for health.

A part of public health is focused on building community resilience and engaging communities to promote behavior change in health and build trust with the health system.

What a fact-checking organization can do:

  • You can combine factchecking with community-based resilience programs and focus on teaching digital literacy and misinformation identification skills to different audiences. This approach can also be used for health workers when engaging through health system.

See next article: 6/ Main challenges and formulating potential solutions in developing factchecking in health sector space

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