September — October 2021
I served project management, visual design, and user researcher roles. I developed the visual identity for this project. I guided parts of our literature review, focusing on understanding the perspective of UC Berkeley students, their pain points, and the context of their problems given a global misinformation crisis. During our presentation, I focused on telling the story of this problem's worldwide context and defining areas of opportunity to help our target audience.
We sought to understand how UC Berkeley responds to public health information, fake news, and making health decisions during a pandemic. We hypothesized that students with varying media engagement levels might have differing judgment, understanding, and reactions to science-based, factual information.We suspected that social media engagement would play a significant role in how a student makes sense of the world from the onset.
We want to educate users about how their social media feed is curated to them. Our team discovered that students could be unaware of how they consume information and why they're consuming a particular type of information. UC Berkeley students tend to have more awareness of how their social media apps function, but they still struggle to educate family and friends about fake news. Fake news takes advantage of the social media user experience because it optimizes engagement, virality, and ultimately profit. It is worth exploring how social media apps might function if users could anonymously social proof pieces of content by assigning a trust score.
Our team presented our findings to the Fung Fellowship and representatives from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Facebook. Our research was notably relevant to students in the Fung Fellowship, and we received feedback that our findings were prescient. Notably, we received feedback that our area of opportunity is particularly non-partisan, pragmatic, and worthwhile.
People are falling victim to misinformation.
Health misinformation is not a new phenomenon. The one thing that's changed, of course, is the internet. It gives more people access to more information than ever before. However, not all of this information is equally good. Public health misinformation has followed us throughout history, but the internet has only accelerated its spread, voracity, and consequence.
The proliferation of social media and the recent politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic has obfuscated science-based truth. The devastating impact of health misinformation has resulted in millions of deaths, economic recession, and emotional havoc worldwide. Everyone is searching for solutions but is likely unable to filter truth from fiction.
Contemporary thinkers have no shortage of ideas about addressing them, but they can all be boiled down to two fundamental approaches: censorship or education. To the extent that members of the public are capable of critical thinking, perhaps these are the only viable solutions. But how can we get people to think for themselves? Everyone has their own theories.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the acute fragility of our public health system and communication. The answer lies in the collective memory of the citizens. In a world making less sense, citizens need to have access to better tools for defending against pseudoscience and obfuscation.
This design challenge will discuss the factors that led to the spread of misinformation, how they relate to disease outbreaks, and finally, what we need to do to prevent further harm.
We decided to explore available literature extensively for this challenge, using our insights to inform our interviews with our target audience. In this process, we'd develop personas of each of our interviewees, understanding their diverse perspectives and drawing themes, key insights, and areas of opportunities to guide future research, prototyping, and ultimately, solutions.
During the critical days for COVID-19 mitigation, U.S. public health institutions gave conflicting messages, which left the public unsafe and feeling skeptical.
U.S. public health messaging was in stark contrast to measures taken in China following the initial outbreak.
We conducted in-person interviews with 3 UC Berkeley. The interview took about 45 minutes, and we encouraged our interviewees to speak from their personal experiences. For our interviews, we had the following goals:
We want to know how we can help people identify and trust science-based truth over misinformation regarding public health online.
Because misinformation, disinformation, and fake news is really prevalent on social media, we want to use design and technology to positively impact how people interact with health-related information online.
We want to learn about user behavior and how people respond to certain types of news they consider to be trustworthy or untrustworthy.
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
What platforms or media outlets do you use to access trustworthy news online? What platforms do you consider untrustworthy
From the platforms, what are the sources? For example, is it user generated content? Official media source?
Do you access news from your phone or laptop? How many times do you go online to read the news on a daily basis? What times of the day? Where?
Do you have any bad experiences with reading health information online? What happened?
Where do you read information regarding the Covid-19 vaccine? Why do you prefer this platform over others?
What sources? User generated content? Official media?
Do you share trustworthy information about Covid-19? Do you repost, make comments, do you like, or/and share information offline with friends or family?
How do you respond to the information you do not trust? For example, do you cross-check your information with other sources? Everytime? Who do you ask?
Misinformation, Disinformation, and fake news is really prevalent on social media. What is your recommendation for academic researchers and high-tech companies to solve this problem?
Our personas were inspired by our anonymous interviewees, their key insights, and personal stories. We share their background, motivations, pain points, frequent news sources, and news activity.
We used affinity mapping to externalize and meaningfully cluster observations and insights from our interviews, keeping us grounded in data as we designed, analyzed, and synthesized.
UC Berkeley students want to stay informed with science-based facts without having to read dense scientific literature.
We can create guidelines for news sources on how to share key findings, statistics, and guidance succinctly.
UC Berkeley students want to share trustworthy sources with family and friends
Before sharing, we can create an interface that notifies you the trustworthiness of the source.
UC Berkeley students have trouble identifying trustworthy sources
We can reorient social media algorithms and notifications to highly prioritize trusted accounts
I felt overwhelmed, excited, confused, and encouraged. This was the first time I've done a rigorous design challenge with an overall process. Although I've been a graphic and interface designer for years, I've never actually gone through a regimented design process with multiple other people. I usually used intuition or sought inspiration in other people's end process.
I would have spent much more time reflecting on our synthesis, scrutinizing our areas of opportunities for feasibility, clarity, and validity. I would have also liked to have framed the areas of opportunity in terms of desired impact on target population.Also, I would have liked to my design presentation to be more concise, really delivering on our synthesis, rather than giving too much context on our interviewees.
Temperamentally, I act as a bulldozer and am biased toward action. The design process requires one to be action oriented, but also be reflective on the project's direction, ensuring that all information and perspectives are accounted for. I've learned ask questions rigorously and constantly assess my approach towards solving the problems. Throughout the design process, I'd like to ensure that our assumptions about our audience and solutions are absolutely grounded in the facts as we understand them. Further, I'd like to actively disproving our understanding, ensuring that our assumptions are grounded rigorous.
Literature reviews, interview analysis, and affinity diagramming were challenging concepts at first, but I feel confident in ability to use these research methods in the future.
I'm very thankful that our team was incredibly hardworking, insightful, and organized. I felt anxious at times because a lot of leadership was delegated to me, and frankly, I didn't fully know what I was doing a lot of the time. Other team members excelled in their areas of expertise.