Senior Lecturer in Digital Business
Digital mindfulness helps people change their behaviour so that they can assess information critically and make more informed decisions. That is vital in countering future disinformation campaigns.
Dr Wasim Ahmed of Stirling Management School and a co-author of the study said: “Our findings highlight the need for a digital mindset in combating disinformation during major disruptive crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Government and health authorities may not have the resources to address every conspiracy, and some content may not violate social media policies. That is when the public needs resources, knowledge and a digital mindset so that they can critically evaluate information.”
He added: “Digital mindfulness through something like the DigiAware Toolbox helps people change their behaviour so that they can assess information critically and make more informed decisions. That is vital in countering future disinformation campaigns.”
Conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 have had a range of consequences, said Dr Ahmed. “For example, the theory that 5G technology is responsible for either spreading or causing COVID-19 led to vandalism and arson of 5G towers and verbal abuse of 5G employees across the UK. The conspiracies around Bill Gates and the Film Your Hospital movement aimed to cause distrust in vaccines and healthcare, leading to some medical professions receiving abuse.”
W. Ahmed et al., ‘Developing Techniques to Support Technological Solutions to Disinformation by Analyzing Four Conspiracy Networks During COVID-19,’ in IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, doi: 10.1109/TEM.2023.3273191 is available here: https://www.stir.ac.uk/research/hub/publication/1901364