Professor Pens Op-Ed on Coronavirus Misinformation | St. Lawrence University

Professor Pens Op-Ed on Coronavirus Misinformation

Stephen Barnard, associate professor and chair of Sociology, recently had an op-ed printed in The Hill titled, "Misinformation About Coronavirus is More Troubling Than You Think."

In his article, Barnard examines the explosion of media coverage on the pandemic, and how damaging the spreading of misinformation, especially through social media, is on the fight to reduce the impact of the virus. In addition, the combination of the pandemic and the misinformation being purveyed about it might be creeping into the looming election season.

"Whether they are debunked conspiracy theories about the cause of the virus or promises of cures that may actually cause harm, increases in public interest always seem to be met with outlandish explanations. How else could we explain the recent finding that nearly 30 percent of Americans believe the virus was created in a lab?" says Barnard. "Misinformation and disinformation threaten a great many core societal functions — most famously, the sanctity of American elections." 

Barnard recently had a book he co-authored, All Media are Social - Sociological Perspectives on Mass Media, published. His first book, Citizens at the Gates: Twitter, Networked Publics, and the Transformation of American Journalism, was published in 2018 and draws insights from nearly a decade of mixed-method research, analyzing Twitter’s role in the transformation of American journalism.

Barnard received his B.A. (2005), M.A. (2007) and Ph.D. (2012) at the University of Missouri and joined St. Lawrence's Department of Sociology as an assistant professor in 2014.