Communication Ethics in an Era of Misinformation

We live in an age where networked communication technology has facilitated the spread of dangerous misinformation which is impacting people’s health and the health of their communities. In fact, the spread of misinformation is considered to be a threat to democracies around the world. Without access to accurate and timely information, people cannot make the decisions they need to thrive and take care of themselves and others. In this talk, I show how in an era of misinformation, clear, accessible, and public-facing communication is an ethical imperative. I show how some practices of professional communication and marketing are contributing to the spread of misinformation, and I discuss the limits of public relations when faced with the problem of misinformation. This talk ends with a call to rethink the practice of professional communication in response to misinformation, and I show how communication ethics in a professional context must change in order to rise to the challenges of our current information environment.

Dr. Jaigris Hodson is the Canada Research Chair (tier 2) in Digital Communication for the Public Interest. Her SSHRC and CIHR funded research examines the ways that misinformation can be mitigated through digital communication efforts, particularly those targeted at the research
community. Thus, her current work examines such interdisciplinary topics as educational interventions to address COVID-19 related misinformation, the online harassment of diverse researchers, the discourses of conspiracy theories, and ecological approaches to understanding misinformation in a modern context.

The 2nd Annual Conference on Communication Ethics is brought to you by the School of Communication & Culture at Royal Roads University.

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