Countering Misinformation Via WhatsApp: Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic in Zimbabwe 

CID Faculty Working Paper No. 380

Jeremy Bowles, Horacio Larreguy, and Shelley Liu
May 2020


We examine how information from trusted social media sources can shape knowledge and behavior when misinformation and mistrust are widespread. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe, we partnered with a trusted civil society organization to randomize the timing of the dissemination of messages aimed at targeting misinformation about the COVID-19 virus to 27,000 newsletter WhatsApp subscribers. We examine how exposure to these messages affects individual beliefs about how to deal with the COVID-19 virus and preventative behavior. The results show that social media messaging from trusted sources may have substantively large effects on not only individual knowledge but also ultimately on related behavior.