During the Covid-19 pandemic, access to quality health information structures individual and community risk for health inequality. Increasingly, social media is functioning as a primary method by which vulnerable populations receive and share Covid-19 information—and misinformation. While many researchers have begun network analysis of the spread and correlates of Covid-19 misinformation, few have engaged in context-rich research that gets at how people appraise, make sense of, and perpetuate misinformation across social media ecologies. To address this gap, we propose a six-month-long comparative ethnographic research project in the favelas of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro Brazil, the Southside of Chicago, and the rural borderlands of northwestern Guatemala. Each context is marked by inequality, limited health-care access, and growing use of social media for information dissemination. They vary in social and environmental characteristics, and national/local public health response. We will leverage existing ethnographic networks to “contact trace” misinformation from key informants back through and beyond the community, elucidating how and why misinformation—and Covid-19 spread itself—plays out differently across global contexts.
Nicole E. Rosner
Postdoctoral Fellow and Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Chicago
PhD Candidate, Emory University
PhD Candidate, State University of Campinas
Postdoctoral Scholar and Fellow, University of Chicago
Doctoral Candidate, Social Anthropology, National Museum in Rio de Janeiro