Describe patterns in the dissemination of fake news in the context of COVID-19 mortality and infodemic management in six Latin American countries.
A descriptive ecological study explored the percentage of the population that is unable to recognize fake news, the percentage who trust social network content, and the percentage who use it as their sole news source in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, up to 29 November 2020. Internet penetration rate, Facebook penetration rate, and COVID-19 mortality were calculated for each country. Information was obtained from literature searches and government and news portals in the selected countries, according to the World Health Organization’s five proposed action areas: identifying evidence, translating knowledge and science, amplifying action, quantifying impact, and coordination and governance.
Chile and Argentina were the countries with the greatest internet penetration rates (92.4% and 92.0%, respectively) and were also among the heaviest users of social media as their only means of obtaining news (32.0% and 28.0%, respectively). Brazil and Colombia showed intermediate behavior for both indicators. Mexico had the highest use of social networks, while Peru and Colombia had the highest indices of inability to recognize fake news.
It was observed that in countries with less use of social networks as the sole means for obtaining information and less trust in social network content, mortality was also lower.