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IST 605: Misinformation and COVID-19

An exploration of misinformation as it pertains to the spread, severity, and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Van der Linden, S. (2023). Foolproof : why misinformation infects our minds and how to build immunity (First American edition.). W.W. Norton & Company.

In Foolproof, one of the world’s leading experts on misinformation lays out a crucial new paradigm for understanding and defending ourselves against the worldwide infodemic. Sander van der Linden explains why our brains are so vulnerable to misinformation, how it spreads across social networks, and what we can do to protect ourselves and others. Deconstructing the characteristic techniques of conspiracies and misinformation, van der Linden gives readers practical tools to defend themselves and others against nefarious persuasion―whether at scale or around their own dinner table. This resource is immeasurably valuable because it comes from the mind of a leading expert in the field, and covers misinformation at its core. Not only an examination of the science behind misinformation, this book gives readers tips to avoid falling victim to persuasion and misinformation.

Loos, E., Ivan, L., Loos, E., & Ivan, L. (2022). Fighting Fake News A Generational Approach. MDPI - Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.

This book focuses on how different generations perceive fake news, including young and middle-age groups of people, multiple age groups, university students and adults in general, elementary students, children, and adolescents. It provides insights into the different methodologies available with which to research fake news from a generational perspective. This resource is valuable due to its exploration of how people perceive misinformation and important strategies for researching information to find the truth behind the text. The author declares no conflict of interest, and does not lean toward any personal or political agenda.

Giusti, S., & Piras, E. (Eds.). (2021). Democracy and fake news : information manipulation and post-truth politics. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

This book explores the challenges that disinformation, fake news, and post-truth politics pose to democracy from a multidisciplinary perspective. The authors analyze and interpret how the use of technology and social media as well as the emergence of new political narratives has been progressively changing the information landscape, undermining some of the pillars of democracy. This resource is valuable not only for its exploration of fake news which is inclusive of social media impact, but it appeals across many disciplines and has a wide appeal. The topics covered in this book allow readers to better consume information in the future.

Ahmad, S. (2022). Coping with COVID-19: The Medical, Mental, and Social Consequences of the Pandemic (1st ed.). Wolters Kluwer Health.

This book, by psychiatrist and author Dr. Samoon Ahmad, explores both the science of the virus and the lasting psychological, clinical, and professional implications of the pandemic. First focusing on the virus itself, medically and historically, Dr. Ahmad gives readers an informative foundation of the virus upon which to explore the wider aspects of the pandemic as they pertain to public health, the medical industry, and psychology. This resource is valuable due to its focus on how the pandemic left a lasting mark on humanity, reinforcing the importance of fighting misinformation.

Databases (2021). Will the vaccine change my DNA?

This internet database is a hub for answering questions and concerns about the safety and efficacy of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The website is run by Biotechnology Innovation Organization. BIO is the world’s largest advocacy association representing member companies, state biotechnology groups, academic and research institutions, and related organizations across the United States and in 30+ countries. This site presents scientifically backed information that can be checked against other medical databases to ensure validity. It is valuable for its ability to answer vaccine-focused questions and combat conspiracy theories.

Health Organizations and Journals

Long, B., Carius, B. M., Chavez, S., Liang, S. Y., Brady, W. J., Koyfman, A., & Gottlieb, M. (2022). Clinical update on COVID-19 for the emergency clinician: Presentation and evaluation. The American journal of emergency medicine54, 46–57.

This source contains an update - as of April 2022 - of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for emergency clinicians. It discusses what the virus is from a medical perspective, provides statistics on the virus and its global impact, and lists symptoms and treatment. It was written by a team of medical professionals from the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, which strengthens its credibility. However, it is not inclusive of any updates about the virus and pandemic since its publication. 

Ferreira Caceres, M. M., Sosa, J. P., Lawrence, J. A., Sestacovschi, C., Tidd-Johnson, A., Rasool, M. H. U., Gadamidi, V. K., Ozair, S., Pandav, K., Cuevas-Lou, C., Parrish, M., Rodriguez, I., & Fernandez, J. P. (2022). The impact of misinformation on the COVID-19 pandemic. AIMS public health9(2), 262–277.

This review article is an enlightening read regarding the negative effects of misinformation on the COVID-19 pandemic.  Its authors assert that the internet, social media, and other communication outlets with readily available data have contributed to the dissemination and availability of misleading information. It has perpetuated beliefs that led to vaccine avoidance, mask refusal, and utilization of medications with insignificant scientific data, ultimately contributing to increased morbidity. The article's findings reinforce the fact that misinformation has become a challenge and a burden to individual health, public health, and governments globally. Published in a special issue of AIMS Public Health: Coronavirus Disease 2019: Modeling, Control and Prediction, this source perfectly supplements information gathering on misinformation and COVID-19.

NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2020, May 12). Drinking alcohol does not prevent or treat coronavirus infection and may impair immune function. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

This webpage comes from one of the leading global health organizations in existence. It has definitive value as a resource, as it is a government-run website, and the information published is backed by leading medical experts in the United States and beyond. This resource is easy to read, features statistics backed by credible references, and contains links for a researcher to deepen his or her understanding on this topic.

Schaler, L., & Wingfield, M. (2022). COVID-19 vaccine - can it affect fertility?. Irish journal of medical science191(5), 2185–2187.

This journal article discusses the myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility. It was written by a team of medical professionals and was published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science, all lending to its credibility as a source. For a researcher, the facts discussed in the article, coupled with a robust list of equally verified references, provide a science and medically-backed delivery of COVID-19 facts, making it a great resource. One limiter to this source is the scope of geography - since the journal is based in Ireland, the supporting data contained within the article is derived from research and records from Ireland and the UK - but are still extremely valuable when assessing fertility, COVID-19, and misinformation correction.

Alwan, A., Garcia, E. P., Kirakosian, A. T., & Weiss, A. P. (2021). Fake news and libraries: How teaching faculty in higher education view librarians’ roles in counteracting the spread of false information. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library &  Information Practice & Research, 16(2), 1–30.

This is a niche resource that I found to be interesting regarding the role of librarians in terms of fighting misinformation. While not directly related to misinformation and COVID-19, the findings of this paper do offer insight as to how members of academia view librarians as authoritative figures concerning combatting "fake news". This source can be helpful to sociology students, psychology students, or anyone diving into how fake news is created, spread, and most importantly, dispelled. It is a valuable piece of broader compilations surrounding misinformation.

Flaherty, E., Sturm, T., & Farries, E. (2022). The conspiracy of Covid-19 and 5G: Spatial analysis fallacies in the age of data democratization. Social science & medicine. 293, 114546.

This source gives credence to the serious nature of the misinformation spread during the pandemic regarding the correlation between 5G mobile technology and COVID-19 infection. Published in the journal of Social Sciences and Medicine, its origin is a reputable source. It was written by students, and during my time reading it, I spotted 2 spelling/grammatical errors, diminishing credibility. With that said, it is robust with valuable references and data that a researcher can use to compile information regarding conspiracy theories and COVID-19.


Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, November 7). Debunking covid-19 myths. Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit American academic medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research. It employs over 7,300 physicians and scientists, along with another 66,000 administrative and allied health staff. It is considered a reputable resource in medical information. This website article is easy to read, contains ample information, and links to a multitude of published references from elite resources that allow researchers to dive deeper. This source allows for an entry-level justification for debunking COVID-19 myths in an abbreviated format, giving researchers a compiled list of topics and facts to further explore. Citations are not contained in each section, creating a bit more work for readers, but are readily available at the end of the article.

Ferguson, S. (2023, September 26). What Are the Effects of Drinking Alcohol with COVID-19? Healthline.

Health Line is a popular health and wellness website. This article, although written by a journalist, was "medically reviewed" by a named doctor - bolstering its credibility. It is an easy-to-read and well-organized response to the myth surrounding alcohol consumption as a preventative measure against COVID-19. It also discusses alcohol consumption as a stand-alone topic, and ways to better prevent COVID-19 discussion. This source is a credible tool in the compilation of COVID-19 misinformation research items.

Caulfield, M. (2019, June 19). SIFT (The Four Moves). HAPGOOD.

This blog offers an easy-to-use method for assessing information for credibility. It was written by Mike Caulfield, who specializes in the study of the spread of online rumors and misinformation and is a research scientist at the University of Washington’s Center. This resource is a strong supplement for someone researching misinformation as a whole, and how to assess sources for credibility. The method Mike outlines is not bulletproof - but is a simple guide to learning how to employ digital literacy, which is more important than ever.

"misinformation, n.”. (July, 2023). Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press.

This reference is a definition of the term, "misinformation". On this site, readers can gain insight into the history of the use of the word, its origin, and its popularity over time. This resource can be helpful when examining the prevalence of misinformation over time and especially with the introduction of technology, the internet, and popularity of social media outlets. It is limited in its use, but is a helpful tool in the compilation of information regarding misinformation for social sciences students.


National Library of Medicine. (2023, March 17). Is Misinformation the Problem? Re-examining the Infodemic [Video].

This video features an hour-long expert-led "talk" about the difference between misinformation and rumors, and how they specifically apply to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of public health measures, and vaccine acceptance in light of misinformation spread on social media sites. Hosted by the National Library of Medicine, a subsector of the National Institute of Health, this video features factual discussions between leading medical experts. It is a valuable resource in the research of how "fake news" adversely affected the spread and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Knuutila, A., Herasimenka, A., Au, H., Bright, J., & Howard, P. N. (2021). A Dataset of COVID-Related Misinformation Videos and their Spread on Social Media. Journal of Open Humanities Data, 7.

Published in the Journal of Open Humanities Data, this dataset allows viewers to watch YouTube videos that contributed to the spread of misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic but were subsequently removed from the internet. It is peer-reviewed, lending itself to a very credible position. This compilation of videos is extremely helpful for anyone in the medical, psychological, or social sciences field to better understand why people believe misinformation on the internet, how it spreads, and how it adversely affects public health and safety.

[The Telegraph]. (2020, April 24). President Trump Claims Injecting People With Disinfectant Could Treat Coronavirus [Video].

This YouTube video, published by a leading British news source, features former US President Donald Trump speaking during a press briefing. During such, he wonders, out loud, about different methods that can be utilized in the fight against SARS-CoV-2. This primary resource can be used by researchers seeking to analyze the origin of misinformation, how the public perceives it, and how prominent government figures should conduct themselves during unprecedented times (and at all times). This source is valuable when exploring why people believe misinformation, and the scope of words against the backdrop of global crisis.

News Articles

Evstatieva, M. (2020, July 10). Anatomy of a COVID-19 conspiracy theory. NPR.

This article, available in both audio and text format, presents a fascinating look into the public perception of misinformation during COVID-19. Featuring quotes from real Americans, this source provides a glimpse into public perception, fear, and how technology fuels myths. The sources cites many experts, and features imagery, data, and references that provide a holistic overview of how misinformation evolved and strengthened during the pandemic. This article is a strong resource for entry level research into how "fake news" adversely affected the COVID-19 pandemic, and how public perception can fuel such news.

Nierenberg, A. (2020, April 24). Please Do Not Eat Disinfectant. The New York Times.

This New York Times article addresses both Donald Trump's public comments about COVID-19 and provides factual information regarding several other pandemic myths. The author cites medical professionals in her delivery, making this a valuable tool in research regarding what myths were prominent during the pandemic. It also provides helpful insight into how the public perceived his words and sheds light on the very public battle between society and medical professionals during the global pandemic. 

Sorting Fact from Fiction: Dr. Sanjay Gupta's coronavirus podcast for May 4. (2020, May 4). CNN Wire, NA.

This source is a transcript of a podcast episode during which CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta addressed several COVID-19 myths. Although accessed through an elementary-level resource, the Gale database as a whole provides access to thousands of journals and authoritative sources, which are vital to respectable research. This transcript is a helpful preliminary resource for gathering COVID-19 myths along with countering facts. It also identifies a trustworthy person who was vocal during the pandemic, opening opportunities for further research.


Andrews, E. A. (2021). Combating COVID-19 Vaccine Conspiracy Theories: Debunking Misinformation About Vaccines, Bill Gates, 5G, and Microchips Using Enhanced Correctives (Order No. 28498207). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2555360525).

This Master's Thesis, accepted and published by the State University of New York at Buffalo, presents an exhaustive examination of conspiracy theories and COVID-19. This source gives readers a well-organized overview of COVID-19 myths, the truth behind them, and reasoning as to their spread and perceived plausibility.  It is unclear whether this thesis was closely supervised by a dissertation committee made up of scholars, which would support its value, but the extensive compilation of credible references provides a multitude of research opportunities for the reader, making it a strong source.