Social Media

COVID-19 Beliefs Influenced by Politicians, Not Scientists, Researchers Suggest

As COVID-19 upended societal norms when it swept through the United States in 2020, a second pandemic — or “infodemic” — was also on the rise. An analysis of Twitter users by researchers at UC Davis and the University of Texas, Austin, suggests that Republican-identifying people who believe their local government has positive intentions are vulnerable to believing politically fueled COVID-19 misinformation. The study did not find the same trend among Democrat-identifying Twitter users.

LGBTQ+ Youth Face Increased Anxiety Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

While a life-altering pandemic has caused a substantial uptick in anxiety and depression symptoms among adults and children alike, LGBTQ+ youth have turned to peers in anonymous online discussion forums for support. New research from UC Davis suggests these LGBTQ+ teenagers — who already experience disproportionate levels of psychological adversity — exhibited increased anxiety on the popular r/LGBTeens subreddit throughout 2020 and the start of 2021.

Vaccine Myths on Social Media Can Be Effectively Reduced With Credible Fact Checking

Study finds that simple tags can make a difference.

Social media misinformation can negatively influence people’s attitudes about vaccine safety and effectiveness, but credible organizations — such as research universities and health institutions — can play a pivotal role in debunking myths with simple tags that link to factual information, UC Davis researchers suggest in a new study.

How Flu Vaccine Misinformation Spreads Online

Social media are a powerful tool to spread information — and misinformation — about health issues such as vaccines and cancer prevention. How does bad information spread online, and what is the best way to stop it? That is a topic being studied by Assistant Professor Jingwen Zhang and her students in the UC Davis Department of Communication.

When Viral Messages Pose Health Threats

Like a disease detective, Jade (Jieyu) Ding Featherstone is on the hunt for a rising global threat to public health. But her territory is Twitter and her target is vaccine misinformation.

For her doctoral research in the Department of Communication, Featherstone is tracking anti-vaccination tweets. Among questions she is exploring: Are there central players behind them? If so, are they bots or humans? Who retweets anti-vaxx messages? What works best in countering their false claims?