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4th ACM SIGCAS/SIGCHI Conference on Computing and Sustainable Societies, COMPASS 2022 ; Par F180472:180-194, 2022.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1950300


As community-driven organizations sought to support their constituents through the COVID-19 crisis, many drew on digital volunteers to expand their capacity and reach. However, coordinating the efforts of virtual volunteers is a challenging task with few empirical studies of the associated risks and best practices. In this paper, we report on the activities of CGNet Swara, a citizen journalism platform that published 401 distress calls from vulnerable communities stranded in India due to the imposition of a nationwide lockdown. CGNet mobilized 11 digital volunteers to help these contributors over a period of nearly 2 months. We found that a lack of proper guidance to digital volunteers and outdated organizational policies resulted in demonstrable harms to vulnerable communities. We discuss risks that are inherent in collaborations between organizations extending themselves to crisis response and emergent groups of digital volunteers, and how they can be mitigated by real-time monitoring and development of standard operating procedures relating to impact metrics, verification standards and disclosure policies. © 2022 ACM.

2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2022 ; 2022.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1874726


Social media has witnessed an unprecedented growth in users based in low-income communities in the Global South. However, much remains unknown about the drivers of misinformation in such communities. To fill this gap, we conducted an interview-based study to examine how rural and urban communities in India engage with misinformation on WhatsApp. We found that misinformation led to bitterness and conflict - rural users who had higher social status heavily influenced the perceptions and engagement of marginalized members. While urban users relied on the expertise of gatekeepers for verification, rural users engaged in collective deliberations in offline spaces. Both rural and urban users knowingly forwarded misinformation. However, rural users propagated hyperlocal misinformation, whereas urban users forwarded misinformation to reduce their efforts to assess information credibility. Using a public sphere lens, we propose that the reactions to misinformation provide a view of Indian society and its schisms around class, urbanity, and social interactions. © 2022 ACM.

31st ACM World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2022 ; : 3718-3727, 2022.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1861671


The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated rapid top-down dissemination of reliable and actionable information. This presents unique challenges in engaging low-literate communities that live in poverty and lack access to the Internet. We describe the design and deployment of a voice-based social media platform, accessible over simple phones, for actively engaging such communities in Pakistan with reliable COVID information. We developed three strategies to overcome users' hesitation, mistrust, and skepticism in engaging with COVID content. Users were: (1) encouraged to listen to reliable COVID advisory, (2) incentivized to share authentic content with others, and (3) prompted to critically think about COVID-related information behaviors. Using a mixed-methods evaluation, we show that users approached with all three strategies had a significantly higher engagement with COVID content compared to others. We discuss how new designs of social media can enable users to engage with and propagate authentic information. © 2022 ACM.