More than three years into their war against online misinformation, technology companies are losing the battle against the spread of coronavirus-related falsehoods on social media platforms. Merchants of mistruth, from state-level actors (like China, Russia, and Iran) to individual conspiracy theorists, are hampering public health efforts by flooding online platforms with disinformation and misinformation. Technology companies are making some efforts to staunch this infodemic, but they have been stymied by shelter-in-place orders that have idled the vast armies of content moderators that usually police their platforms.
It’s time for a different approach to dealing with the scourge of coronavirus-related misinformation—one that leverages the most powerful and dangerous features of online platforms to advance the cause of public health. At this time of crisis, we should harness the very behavioral advertising techniques that have been so widely misused in recent years to help us combat the coronavirus.
[Read more on Slate.com]