Disinformation In The Time of Covid-19
Master Thesis
︎ The thesis investigates how Covid-19 acted as an accelerant to online disinformation. The information void surrounding the use of face masks made it an ideal case study. Design fictions are used to develop new tools for prebunking, drawing upon the theory of psychological inoculation, pre-emptively exposing people to weakened doses of disinformation to cultivate ‘mental antibodies’.
︎︎︎Facebook commonly hosts the disinformation encountered online. The platform’s like and group recommendation features can lead users to conspiratorial messages, creating information bubbles and communities around misleading content. This has led to an industry of motivated disinformation publishers who exploit controversies for personal gain. During the pandemic, as people distanced themselves from real life communities, online groups became stand-ins with Facebook acting as a main mediator of our experiences.  
︎︎︎Countermeasures are currently implemented once the disinformation has grown a following, not while there is still uncertainty. Legislative action is ineffective and journalism’s pre-emptive coverage risks amplification to new audiences. 
︎︎︎Disinformation during the pandemic is a hyperobject. Building on Timothy Morton’s ideas that events, such as the pandamic, cannot be dealt with using factoids and information dumps, alternative methodologies are needed for prebunking. This thesis investigates how we can use design and specifically designed fictions as a tool to better develop agency against future cases of disinformation.