Mar 11 -- correction https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-05132
Mar 7 -- The Office of the Surgeon General requests input from interested parties on the impact and prevalence of health misinformation in the digital information environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS will consider the usability, applicability, and rigor of submissions in response to this RFI and share learnings from these responses with the public. To be assured consideration, comments must be received no later than midnight Eastern Time (ET) on May 2, 2022.
Health misinformation—health information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence at the time—has been a challenge during public health emergencies before, including persistent rumors about HIV/AIDS that have undermined efforts to reduce infection rates in the U.S. and during the Ebola epidemic. But the speed, scale, and sophistication with which misinformation has been spread during the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. Recent research shows that most Americans believe or are unsure of at least one COVID-19 vaccine falsehood.
The digital information environment is a phenomenon that requires further research and study to better prepare for future public health emergencies. This RFI seeks to understand both the impact of health misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique role that technology and social media platforms play in the dissemination of critical health information during a public health emergency. The inputs from stakeholders will help inform future pandemic response in the context of an evolving digital information environment.
Please respond to specific topics where you have both expertise and sufficient evidence to support your comments. Respondents are requested to share objective results of an evaluation for each topic when possible. A response to every item is not required.
Information About Impact on Healthcare
1. Information about how COVID-19 misinformation has affected quality of patient care during the pandemic.
a. Information about how important a role COVID-19 misinformation played in patient decisions not to vaccinate, including the types of misinformation that influenced decisions.
b. Information about the media sources from which patients are receiving misinformation and if such information has negatively influenced their healthcare decisions or resulted in patient harm.
2. Information about how COVID-19 misinformation has impacted healthcare systems and infrastructure.
a. Information about time and resources spent addressing COVID-19 misinformation.
b. Information about how COVID-19 misinformation has impacted healthcare worker morale and safety in the workplace, including instances of online harassment or harm.
Information About Technology Platforms
3. Information about how widespread COVID-19 misinformation is on individual technology platforms including: General search engines, content sharing platforms, social media platforms, e-commerce platforms, crowd sourced platforms, and instant messaging systems.
a. a. Starting with but not limited to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html
of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any aggregate data and analysis on the prevalence of COVID-19 misinformation on individual platforms including exactly how many users saw or may have been exposed to instances of COVID-19 misinformation. [Corrected per https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-05132
b. Any aggregate data and analysis on how many users were exposed, were potentially exposed, or otherwise engaged with COVID-19 misinformation. (Exposure is defined as seeing content in newsfeeds, in search results, or algorithmically nominated content. Potential exposure is the exposure users would have had if they could see all the content that is eligible to appear within their newsfeeds. Engagement includes the clicking or viewing of content, as well as reacting. Sharing is the act of sharing a piece of pre-existing content within social media.)
c. Any aggregate data broken down by demographics on groups or populations who may have been differentially exposed to or impacted by COVID-19 misinformation.
4. Information about COVID-19 misinformation policies on individual technology platforms.
a. Any aggregate data and analysis of technology platform COVID-19 misinformation policies including implementation of those policies and evaluations of their effectiveness.
5. Information about sources of COVID-19 misinformation.
a. Information about the major sources of COVID-19 misinformation associated with exposure. (By source we mean both specific, public actors that are providing misinformation, as well as components of specific platforms that are driving exposure to information.)
6. Information about COVID-19 misinformation from sources engaged in the sale of unproven COVID-19 products or services ( e.g., prescriptions for unapproved or unauthorized drugs, sales of alternative cures, or sales of other unapproved or unauthorized COVID-19 medical products), or other money-making models.
Information About Impacted Communities
7. Information about how COVID-19 misinformation has impacted individuals and communities.
a. Information about how COVID-19 misinformation has impacted organizations that serve communities directly through service ( e.g., libraries and food banks), and community-based organizations that are faith-based or provide affinity to communities ( e.g., clubs and sororities or fraternities).
b. Information about how COVID-19 misinformation has impacted community members: Individuals and families.