Fighting the COVID-19 Infodemic in Social Media: A Holistic Perspective and a Call to Arms

Authors

  • Firoj Alam QCRI, Doha, Qatar
  • Fahim Dalvi QCRI, Doha, Qatar
  • Shaden Shaar QCRI, Doha, Qatar
  • Nadir Durrani QCRI, Doha, Qatar
  • Hamdy Mubarak QCRI, Doha, Qatar
  • Alex Nikolov Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski”, Bulgaria
  • Giovanni Da San Martino University of Padova, Italy
  • Ahmed Abdelali QCRI, Doha, Qatar
  • Hassan Sajjad QCRI, Doha, Qatar
  • Kareem Darwish QCRI, Doha, Qatar
  • Preslav Nakov QCRI, Doha, Qatar

Keywords:

Credibility of online content, Text categorization; topic recognition; demographic/gender/age identification

Abstract

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, people turned to social media to read and to share timely information including statistics, warnings, advice, and inspirational stories. Unfortunately, alongside all this useful information, there was also a new blending of medical and political misinformation and disinformation, which gave rise to the first global infodemic. While fighting this infodemic is typically thought of in terms of factuality, the problem is much broader as malicious content includes not only fake news, rumors, and conspiracy theories, but also promotion of fake cures, panic, racism, xenophobia, and mistrust in the authorities, among others. This is a complex problem that needs a holistic approach combining the perspectives of journalists, fact-checkers, policymakers, government entities, social media platforms, and society as a whole. With this in mind, we define an annotation schema and detailed annotation instructions that reflect these perspectives. We further deploy a multilingual annotation platform, and we issue a call to arms to the research community and beyond to join the fight by supporting our crowdsourcing annotation efforts. We perform initial annotations using the annotation schema, and our initial experiments demonstrated sizable improvements over the baselines.

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Published

2021-05-22

How to Cite

Alam, F., Dalvi, F., Shaar, S., Durrani, N., Mubarak, H., Nikolov, A., Da San Martino, G., Abdelali, A., Sajjad, H., Darwish, K., & Nakov, P. (2021). Fighting the COVID-19 Infodemic in Social Media: A Holistic Perspective and a Call to Arms. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 15(1), 913-922. Retrieved from https://ojs.aaai.org/index.php/ICWSM/article/view/18114