Impact of correcting misinformation on social disruption

Ryusuke Iizuka, Fujio Toriumi, Mao Nishiguchi, Masanori Takano, Mitsuo Yoshida

People are obtaining more and more information from social media and other online sources, but the spread of misinformation can lead to social disruption. In particular, social networking services (SNSs) can easily spread information of uncertain authenticity and factuality. Although many studies have proposed methods that addressed how to suppress the spread of misinformation on SNSs, few works have examined the impact on society of diffusing both misinformation and its corrective information. This study models the effects of effort to reduce misinformation and the diffusion of corrective information on social disruption, and it clarifies these effects. With the aim of reducing the impact on social disruption, we show that not only misinformation but also corrective information can cause social disruption, and we clarify how to control the spread of the latter to limit its impact. We analyzed the misinformation about a toilet-paper shortage and its correction as well as the social disruption this event caused in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. First, (1) we analyzed the extent to which misinformation and its corrections spread on SNS, and then (2) we created a model to estimate the impact of misinformation and its corrections on the world. Finally, (3) We used our model to analyze the change in this impact when the diffusion of the misinformation and its corrections changed. Based on our analysis results in (1), the corrective information spread much more widely than the misinformation. From the model developed in (2), the corrective information caused excessive purchasing behavior. The analysis results in (3) show that the amount of corrective information required to minimize the societal impact depends on the amount of misinformation diffusion. Most previous studies concentrated on the impact of corrective information on attitudes toward misinformation. On the other hand, the most significant contribution of this study is that it focuses on the impact of corrective information on society and clarifies the appropriate amount of it.