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Experts tracked and addressed COVID-19 rumors and misinformation in Puerto Rico

Mónica Ivelisse Feliú-Mójer's picture
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"Infórmate. Protégete. Vacúnate" was the rumor tracking project by Mercy Corps Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Public Health Trust, CienciaPR, Ciencia en Tus Manos and Internews.

Mercy Corps Puerto Rico, together with Puerto Rico Public Health Trust (PRPHT), Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR), Ciencia en Tus Manos (CETM) and Internews developed a Rumor Tracking Program "Infórmate, Protégete, Vacunate" on news related to vaccines and COVID-19 in Puerto Rico. The effort ran from March to June and collected more than 1,000 rumors that were categorized by risk levels (high, medium and low). Much of the misinformation and rumors collected revolved around the safety of the coronavirus vaccine.

During the program, the organization's worked collaboratively with 14 communities in different parts of the archipelago to understand common narratives and provide objective, needs-based information in real time. In addition, Mercy Corps Puerto Rico conducted continuous social media monitoring (with the support of Internews), which consisted of collecting rumors or perceptions through the most used social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). In total, 173 rumors were collected through community networks and 907 rumors were collected through social networks. 

Mercy Corps, with support from PRPHT, CienciaPR and CETM, developed easy-to-understand, engaging and simple educational content on a weekly basis. This content was shared through the social networks of Mercy Corps Puerto Rico and its collaborators. Likewise, community leaders distributed the messages to their communities through personal interactions with community members.

To date, the program has reached more than 118,000 participants through:

  • 2 trainings for community leaders on identifying rumors and misinformation;
  • 10 educational materials (including videos, publications, infographics) shared on social media about vaccine efficacy, the reason to receive the vaccine, and more (you can view and download them here); and;
  • 1 virtual workshop on "Infodemic Management" to journalists, journalism students and media professionals (access the resources here; watch the workshop recordings: Part 1 and Part 2).

You can read a full report on "Infórmate, Protegete, Vacunate" here. Here you will find a story about the project in El Nuevo Día and here in La Perla del Sur.

Infographic summarizing the impact of "Infórmate. Protégete. Vacúnate".