The recent COVID-19 pandemic came alongside with an “infodemic”, with online social media flooded by often unreliable information associating the medical emergency with popular subjects of disinformation. In Italy, one of the first European countries suffering a rise in new cases and dealing with a total lockdown, controversial topics such as migrant flows and the 5G technology were often associated online with the origin and diffusion of the virus. In this work we analyze COVID-19 related conversations on the Italian Facebook, collecting over 1.5M posts shared by nearly 80k public pages and groups for a period of four months since January 2020. On the one hand, our findings suggest that well-known unreliable sources had a limited exposure, and that discussions over controversial topics did not spark a comparable engagement with respect to institutional and scientific communication. On the other hand, however, we realize that dis- and counter-information induced a polarization of (clusters of) groups and pages, wherein conversations were characterized by a topical lexicon, by a great diffusion of user generated content, and by link-sharing patterns that seem ascribable to coordinated propaganda. As revealed by the URL-sharing diffusion network showing a “small-world” effect, users were easily exposed to harmful propaganda as well as to verified information on the virus, exalting the role of public figures and mainstream media, as well as of Facebook groups, in shaping the public opinion.

Information disorders during the COVID-19 infodemic: The case of Italian Facebook / Guarino S.; Pierri F.; Di Giovanni M.; Celestini A.. - In: ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORKS AND MEDIA. - ISSN 2468-6964. - ELETTRONICO. - 22:(2021), pp. 1-12. [10.1016/j.osnem.2021.100124]

Information disorders during the COVID-19 infodemic: The case of Italian Facebook

Guarino S.;Di Giovanni M.;
2021

Abstract

The recent COVID-19 pandemic came alongside with an “infodemic”, with online social media flooded by often unreliable information associating the medical emergency with popular subjects of disinformation. In Italy, one of the first European countries suffering a rise in new cases and dealing with a total lockdown, controversial topics such as migrant flows and the 5G technology were often associated online with the origin and diffusion of the virus. In this work we analyze COVID-19 related conversations on the Italian Facebook, collecting over 1.5M posts shared by nearly 80k public pages and groups for a period of four months since January 2020. On the one hand, our findings suggest that well-known unreliable sources had a limited exposure, and that discussions over controversial topics did not spark a comparable engagement with respect to institutional and scientific communication. On the other hand, however, we realize that dis- and counter-information induced a polarization of (clusters of) groups and pages, wherein conversations were characterized by a topical lexicon, by a great diffusion of user generated content, and by link-sharing patterns that seem ascribable to coordinated propaganda. As revealed by the URL-sharing diffusion network showing a “small-world” effect, users were easily exposed to harmful propaganda as well as to verified information on the virus, exalting the role of public figures and mainstream media, as well as of Facebook groups, in shaping the public opinion.
2021
Information disorders during the COVID-19 infodemic: The case of Italian Facebook / Guarino S.; Pierri F.; Di Giovanni M.; Celestini A.. - In: ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORKS AND MEDIA. - ISSN 2468-6964. - ELETTRONICO. - 22:(2021), pp. 1-12. [10.1016/j.osnem.2021.100124]
Guarino S.; Pierri F.; Di Giovanni M.; Celestini A.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/854386
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