Online misinformation, its influence on the student body, and institutional responsibilities
Authors: Phippen, A. and Bond, E.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in conspiracy theories underpinned by misinformation and “fake news, " much of which is propagated from online sources and disseminated by both real users and bots intent on destabilization. As a result of both the pandemic and the use of scientific information to justify policy choices, some of which impact on civil liberties, the pandemic has also seen a rise in the mistrust of scientific inquiry and the role of evidence in decision making. Within higher education, there is evidence that students will often form opinions based upon fake news and misinformation, particularly when a true understanding of a situation requires detailed technical or scientific information. We have a need to remould digital literacy into the need for evidence and critically reviewed information sources, which also consider the source itself. Critical digital literacy is a crucial skill for all in the global connected society.