Securing the health of our nation:
detection of social media misinformation and its impact

Studying spatially explicit online disinformation networks and their impact on human health outcomes.

THe Problem

The development of online misinformation campaigns, particularly those contradicting health practitioners’ guidance, reduces the efficacy of legitimate public-health interventions meant to control the COVID-19 pandemic (such as social distancing, staying home, and mask-wearing). The extent to which promulgation of viral misinformation affects compliance with disease-prevention recommendations (and subsequently, public health) remains unknown.

Our Solution

We take a multi-faceted groundwork approach to develop an information-theoretic model to detect and isolate COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation, with a focus on messages and their distribution. This research involves the design and development of a COVID-19 misinformation codebook and discovery of promulgation pathways leading to impact on health outcomes. Search infrastructure is deployed with stream-centric indexing to support geolocation pipelines for region-specific searches, and with multimodal indexing to support image- and link-based searches. We explore the spatial extent of identified social-network exploitation pathways for the targeted areas and model spatially explicit correlations of social-network exploitation and disease prevalence at the sub-national level.


Defending the nation against deception that poisons the information ecosystem has never been timelier. The end goal of this project aims for facts to prevail by securing the distribution of unbiased messages and sharing content-based network-inference of pathways for promulgation of misinformation and disinformation. To that end, we seek to detect and deter misinformation and disinformation in near real-time and to deliver a robust platform for informed decision-making and policy guidance.​

Contact Us

Human Dynamics Section, Geospatial Science and Human Security Division, National Security and Sciences Directorate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA