“How can we give our colleagues the tools to be brave enough to go on TikTok?”

This question was posed by IFL Co-Director Claire Wardle, PhD, as she shared strategies for “Communicating Science in the Age of Misinformation” with Brown faculty as part of the Brown School of Public Health’s series of communications tutorials.

The transformation of science and health communications brought about by social media requires new approaches by public health practitioners. Social media is driven by emotive, visual content, while most science communication takes the form of long, text-heavy technical reports and journal articles. In this new media environment, individuals increasingly turn to peers and community members in the face of eroding trust in conventional news sources and public health authorities.

Wardle proposed developing public health communications techniques including “red team” exercises (in which participants role play how bad actors might undermine public health interventions) and “truth sandwiches” (in which misinformation is bracketed by accurate, scientific information).

Participants in the workshop expressed frustration with misinformation, and welcomed Wardle’s proposals for mainstreaming new communications approaches in public health.