Fake news or misinformation on social media platforms is a growing phenomenon in the world and can have a profound social, economic, and political impact on societies ranging from election interference, polarisation, and violence. This problem is particularly challenging in developing countries where lower levels of literacy and limited exposure to technology can make users more susceptible to believing and acting upon misinformation.
LUMS faculty, Dr Ayesha Ali (Assistant Professor of Economics) and Dr Ihsan Ayyub Qazi (Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Computer Science) were recently awarded a research grant by Facebook for their proposal on understanding the impact of digital literacy on the spread of misinformation in Pakistan. The highly prestigious Facebook Integrity Foundational Research Award was awarded to only 11 proposals from across the world in 2019, which included proposals from Stanford University, Princeton University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and Michigan University. Out of these, only two awards were given to Universities outside the USA.
Dr Ali and Dr Qazi conducted a household level survey to capture the trends in social media use among low and middle-income users in the city of Lahore, Pakistan and evaluated the effectiveness of two educational interventions for countering misinformation among populations with lower levels of digital literacy in a randomized control setting.