Combating Health Misinformation in Social Media: Characterization, Detection, Intervention, and Open Issues

by   Canyu Chen, et al.

Social media has been one of the main information consumption sources for the public, allowing people to seek and spread information more quickly and easily. However, the rise of various social media platforms also enables the proliferation of online misinformation. In particular, misinformation in the health domain has significant impacts on our society such as the COVID-19 infodemic. Therefore, health misinformation in social media has become an emerging research direction that attracts increasing attention from researchers of different disciplines. Compared to misinformation in other domains, the key differences of health misinformation include the potential of causing actual harm to humans' bodies and even lives, the hardness to identify for normal people, and the deep connection with medical science. In addition, health misinformation on social media has distinct characteristics from conventional channels such as television on multiple dimensions including the generation, dissemination, and consumption paradigms. Because of the uniqueness and importance of combating health misinformation in social media, we conduct this survey to further facilitate interdisciplinary research on this problem. In this survey, we present a comprehensive review of existing research about online health misinformation in different disciplines. Furthermore, we also systematically organize the related literature from three perspectives: characterization, detection, and intervention. Lastly, we conduct a deep discussion on the pressing open issues of combating health misinformation in social media and provide future directions for multidisciplinary researchers.


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