Is COVID-19 an ‘ordinary flu’ that benefits politicians? Perception of pandemic disinformation in Latvia

Anda Rožukalne, Alise Tīfentale, Sandra Murinska

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract

This study seeks to understand the society’s susceptibility to COVID-19-related disinformation in Latvia, linking it to the evaluation of the perceived COVID-19 health risks. The main research questions of this paper are: how do Latvians perceive disinformation about COVID-19 and how this perception relates to different degrees of perceived COVID-19 risks? A nationally representative survey was conducted in September 2020 reaching 1013 Latvia’s residents. In the process of creating the questionnaire, a feasibility study was carried out to identify the most common COVID-19 disinformation narratives. 54% of the respondents have encountered disinformation, however, 20% cannot assess it and 26% have not noticed COVID-19 related disinformation. Regarding the respondents' reaction to false information, we found that 33% do not react at all, while 13% try to ensure the reliability of the source before sharing it and 7% try to find out the source of information. When asked about false statements related to pandemic, 38% of the respondents indicated that they do not believe in any of the proposed statements, 33% agreed that statistics on COVID-19 deaths are misleading, 30% thought that “the COVID-19-related chaos is beneficial for politicians,” while 17% believed that “COVID-19 is like flu.” Regarding conspiracy theories on COVID-19, 15% believe that pandemic measures aim at full population control, 9% of respondents agree that the pandemic is led by global corporations. Respondents with a higher level of education and more active media usage habits are more likely to recognise COVID-19 disinformation. Moreover, this skill is linked to a higher degree of the perceived threat of the disease. Meanwhile, respondents with a basic education and the unemployed are more inclined to believe in disinformation. Conspiracy theories’ supporters rate the risk of the disease as low and unreal, thus, the susceptibility to disinformation is determined by the COVID-19 risk self-assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages83
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021
Event2nd International Interdisciplinary Conference PLACES - Riga, Latvia
Duration: 25 Mar 2019 → …
Conference number: 2

Conference

Conference2nd International Interdisciplinary Conference PLACES
CountryLatvia
CityRiga
Period25/03/19 → …

Field of Science

  • 5.8 Media and Communication

Publication Type

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)

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