An agent-based model about the effects of fake news on a norovirus outbreak

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Concern about health misinformation is longstanding, especially on the Internet. Using agent-based models, we considered the effects of such misinformation on a norovirus outbreak, and some methods for countering the possible impacts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ health advice. The work explicitly models spread of physical disease and information (both online and offline) as two separate but interacting processes. The models have multiple stochastic elements; repeat model runs were made to identify parameter values that most consistently produced the desired target baseline scenario. Next, parameters were found that most consistently led to a scenario when outbreak severity was clearly made worse by circulating poor quality disease prevention advice. Strategies to counter ‘fake’ health news were tested. A 10% reduction in circulating bad advice or making at least 20% of people fully resistant to believing in and sharing bad health advice were effective thresholds to counteract the negative impacts of bad advice during a norovirus outbreak. How feasible it is to achieve these targets within communication networks (online and offline) should be explored.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventEast of England Public Health Conference 2018 - Stansted Airport, Stansted, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Oct 201830 Oct 2018


ConferenceEast of England Public Health Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Agent-based-models
  • outbreak
  • norovirus
  • fake news
  • filter bubbles

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