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Can You Trust Your Newsfeed? New IAEA CRP Studies How to Mitigate the Harm of Misinformation in Nuclear Emergencies (J15001)

New Coordinated Research Project

Viral misinformation in a nuclear emergency could increase the consequences of the emergency. A new IAEA CRP will assess methods to identify such information and review methods to mitigate its adverse effects.

Communicators are concerned that misinformation distributed online in a nuclear emergency could undermine the reach of and trust in official sources of any information. As a result, people may not follow authorities’ advice on how to stay safe, worsening the emergency’s consequences.

Research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on social network readership and sharing of posts shows found that erroneous and misleading versions of a story spread more swiftly and reached a broader audience than the factual version of the same story. In a nuclear emergency, such rapidly spreading misinformation can amplify public anxiety and increase confusion. Ensuring public safety despite communication distortion is a need to be addressed before an emergency occurs – in the preparedness phase.

CRP Objective

A new IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) will assess methods and tools that identify online misinformation that misrepresents or contradicts authoritative safety recommendations. The CRP will also review how effectively existing methods can mitigate or prevent the detected misinformation’s adverse effects. The project’s results will inform practical guidance for decision makers on correcting viral falsifications about authoritative protective measures.

How to join the CRP

More information on this CRP, including specific objectives, and the form for contacting the project officer can be found here. Applications should be submitted by 30 June 2019.

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