Anuragini Shirish (IMT-BS): “fake news is an ongoing sociotechnical phenomenon” aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic

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In the study published in the European Journal of Information Systems, February 26, 2021, Anuragini Shirish, Associate Professor at Institute Mines-Télécom Business School, along with her co-authors, Shirish C. Srivastava, HEC Paris and Shalini Chandra, SP Jain SchooL of Global Management explore “the propensity of generation and consumption of fake news” within nations. 

In times of uncertainity people’s need for predictability and reassurances are high. They tend to cope reactively using informational resources facilitated by internet connectivity and proactively via institutional resources. In the article, Impact of mobile connectivity and freedom on fake news propensity during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-country empirical examination, Anuragini Shirish exposes how the informational resource of mobile connectivity in a nation aggravates the spread of COVID-19 related fake news. Further, she explains how the institutional resource of political freedom in a nation contributes to fake news propensity instead of arresting it. The findings reiterate the need for professionalism and proper check and balances on the political systems of a nation as they can influence and shape public opinion at times of crisis.  Moreover, the paper empirically demonstrates that institutional resources of media and economic freedom perceptions guaranteed by the national institutional structures can prevent citizens from becoming the victims or perpetrators of fake news. 

From a policy perspective, there is an urgent need for governments to reflect and reorient their strategies related to mobile Internet connectivity by taking preventive measures to avoid misuse of this potent medium for the spread of misinformation during a crisis. Moreover for better crisis preparedness, she recommends bolstering government communication strategies that increase media and economic freedom perceptions to arrest uncertainty perceptions from crippling the national peace and prosperity when an exceptional crisis such as COVID-19 strikes.