3 years ago

Practices and promises of Facebook for science outreach: Becoming a “Nerd of Trust”

Craig R. McClain

by Craig R. McClain

Arguably, the dissemination of science communication has recently entered a new age in which science must compete for public attention with fake news, alternate facts, and pseudoscience. This clash is particularly evident on social media. Facebook has taken a prime role in disseminating fake news, alternate facts, and pseudoscience, but is often ignored in the context of science outreach, especially among individual scientists. Based on new survey data, scientists appear in large Facebook networks but seldom post information about general science, their own scientific research, or culturally controversial topics in science. The typical individual scientist’s audience is large and personally connected, potentially leading to both a broad and deep engagement in science. Moreover, this media values individual expertise, allowing scientists to serve as a “Nerd of Trust” for their online friend and family networks. Science outreach via social media demands a renewed interest, and Facebook may be an overlooked high-return, low-risk science outreach tool in which scientists can play a valuable role to combat disinformation.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2002020

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