press release
Published: 18 November 2021

SBS receives grant to explore the impact of disinformation surrounding Covid-19

Surrey Business School’s Dr Itziar Castello and her colleagues are delighted to announce they have been awarded a £70,000 grant from the British Academy Covid Recovery Grants.

Dr Castello
Dr Itziar Castello

The grant will be funding a project entitled, Fighting fake news: online disinformation in COVID times. The project will analyse the strategies of three organisations to fight disinformation and anti-vaccination discourses online. It is an international project, comprising researchers from universities in France, Italy and the UK (led by Dr Castello).

Regarding the project, Dr Castello comments: “Fake news amplifies existential threats posed to societies, recently exemplified by the anti-vaccination movements. Using social media analysis, this research identifies discourses adopted by anti-vaccination campaigns and the most effective counter-campaigns to fight online harm and reduce vaccine hesitancy in Italy, France and Ireland. We will analyse the discursive strategies and the cultural, social, legal, and economic factors that might influence the diffusion of misinformation regarding Covid-19.

“Through our expertise in emotional socio-symbolic strategies, we will focus on the role of emotions, not only disseminating fake news but in fighting fake news. We will translate the findings into strategies for policymakers and NGOs to more effectively reduce vaccine hesitancy. The findings will also inform the wider regulatory space in the EU, member states and the UK, where legislative and policy efforts are being made to improve online safety and the accountability of online platforms.”

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