Qatar v. Ecuador to kick off FIFA World Cup 2022™ on 20 NovemberRead more Webb Fontaine Announces Launch of Niger National Single Window (NNSW) to Bolster TradeRead more Ethiopia: Loan from United Nations Fund Allows Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to Scale Up Fertilizers for Farmers in TigrayRead more How Choosing the Right Printer Helps Small Businesses and Content Creators to Save Time, Maximise Productivity and Achieve GrowthRead more The United States Contributes USD $223 Million to Help World Food Programme (WFP) Save Lives and Stave Off Severe Hunger in South SudanRead more Eritrea: World Breastfeeding WeekRead more Eritrean community festival in Scandinavian countriesRead more IOM: Uptick in Migrants Heading Home as World Rebounds from COVID-19Read more Network International & Infobip to offer WhatsApp for Business Banking Services to Financial Institution Clients across AfricaRead more Ambassador Jacobson Visits Gondar in the Amhara Region to Show Continued U.S. Support for the Humanitarian and Development Needs of EthiopiansRead more

Science journal calls on scientists to combat Facebook misinformation

show caption
A smart phone screen displays the logo of Facebook on a Facebook website background./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Oct 01, 2021 - 08:30 AM

WASHINGTON — Leading US journal Science on Thursday issued a rare editorial calling for scientists to fight back against the Covid misinformation that proliferates on Facebook.

“The pandemic has revealed shocking ineptness by the scientific establishment at conveying messages about masks, vaccination, or the dangers of consuming horse drugs and aquarium cleaner,” wrote editor-in-chief H. Holden Thorp.

The former chemistry professor added that social media had been skillfully exploited by “antiscience forces,” singling out Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, right wing public figures who have built up loyal followings.

Communicating about research is inherently difficult because the scientific process is slow and iterative, with caveats and answers that aren’t always definitive, conceded Thorp — and such content does not always lend itself to viral posts.

But the problem is “the antiscience opposition doesn’t care about the caveats,” he added.

While the pandemic has seen the rise of numerous credible scientists who have amassed large followings on Twitter — examples include Ashish Jha, dean of Brown School of Public Health and NYU professor Celine Gounder — the same is not true on Facebook.

“People tend to trust individuals they know on Facebook, making it powerful for changing hearts and minds,” said Thorp, urging engagement rather than a boycott.

“To do battle in this arena, science will need to find its own super figures who can compete directly with the Shapiros and Bonginos of the antiscience world,” he added, whether they be practicing scientists or skilled science communicators.

“Since the end of World War II, scientists have clung to the idea that if they stay objective and state the science, then the rest of the world will follow,” he said, concluding that hostility to both climate and Covid research had proven this naive.

ZONNTECH.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.