Author: Luí­s Amorim – Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil

Co-author: Luisa Massarani – Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil

To advocate that social media today is of utmost importance to society and for the dissemination of information, including science information, is unnecessary. As some authors argue, the development of digital technologies has led to profound transformations in the way that the public learns about science and technology. One example is that there are a large number of adolescents who choose the Internet as a means of seeking scientific and technological information. In Brazil, a national survey involving 2,206 people aged 15-24 years shows that interest in science is high. The study also indicates that Google (79%) is the main platform young people use to access science and technology information, closely followed by YouTube (73%). WhatsApp and Facebook are also cited by more than half of young people as important tools.

Considering this, and the context of post-truth and fake news, our study uses an eye-tracker and a questionnaire to assess the relevance of information sources for the participants. The experiment was carried out at the Laboratoire des Usages en Technologies d’Information Informations, Paris, involving 23 participants with an average age of 20.5 years, who were divided into two groups. They read four different texts, two from reliable sources (Le Monde and Le Figaro) and two from unreliable sources (Alimentation, Santé et Bien Être, and Santé Nutrition). In one of the groups, there was a manipulation: participants read Le Monde and Le Figaro texts with an indication of unreliable sources and vice versa. Our data indicate that in both groups, there are few fixations (an eye movement that suggests the attention of the readers) on the name of the publication and that the source of information does not appear to have much influence on their willingness to share a story.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Insight talk
Theme: Technology

Author: Luí­s Amorim – Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil

Eduardo Barreto Rosario
Marina Ramalho

The end of the year 2015 was marked by the repercussion in the Brazilian media and abroad of the controversy surrounding Synthetic Phosphoethanolamine. Capsules with this substance were produced and supplied to cancer patients at the University of São Paulo, the most prominent University in Brazil, until an ordinance published by the institution prohibits the production and distribution of any drug for medicinal purposes that does not have an official registration. The press went on to report examples of cancer patients who sought in court the right to continue to receive and use the substance. These patients reported improvements and even remission of cancer attributed to the use of the Phosphoethanolamine. Several decisions of the court were granted determining the return of the distribution of the drug, despite the absence of official evidence of efficacy and safety issued by official bodies. The judicial and popular pressure also determined urgency in conducting official tests with the drug, financed by the Brazilian government. The objective of this work is to analyze how the controversy was portrayed on YouTube, the leading online video platform in the world. We searched the top 30 videos in the number of views for four keywords, in Portuguese: “Fosfoetanolamina”, “Pílula do Câncer”, “Chierice” and “Fosfo”, leading at a corpus of analysis of 95 videos. Our analysis shows the great relevance of “produsers”. Our data reveal the importance of user-generated content that outnumbered genre views that reflect professional-generated content: the total number of views of the 50 professional-generated content videos is 1,462,052, while the total number of views of the 45 user-generated content videos is 3,054,754. Another finding shows that the scientist is present in 66 videos, demonstrating the importance of this voice in the construction of the messages.

Presentation type: Show, tell and talk
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication

Author: Luí­s Amorim – Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil

Paloma da Silva Barreto
Marcelo Garcia – Oswaldo Cruz Foundation

The paper analyzed how zika/microcephaly was approached by Fiocruz, the main health research center in Latin America and the first institution to link zika and microcephaly, on its Facebook page. The objectives of this research were to identify the main characteristics of Fiocruz fanpage posts on Facebook that refers to the subject, in relation to its formats and contents addressed. In addition, we intended to understand how was the interaction between the public and Fiocruz; how the rumors about the epidemic were addressed by the institution and how science has been portrayed throughout the posts. A total of 132 posts, published between May 2015 and May 2016, the period of higher impact and relevance of the zika theme, were analyzed. All these posts were examined by quantitative analysis considering four dimensions: frequency, thematic, format and engagement; and the five posts with more engagement were analyzed qualitatively. The study concluded that Fiocruz’s page dedicated an expressive space to the topic zika/microcephaly, prioritizing approaches with a scientific and political-institutional approach. There was also an effort to dialogue with a varied audience, with a multi-topic approach. The posts with the highest engagement were focused on scientific dissemination and target an audience beyond professional and academic ties. Among them, the posts about rumors were the ones that most motivated audience interaction, demonstrating great interest in the topic and the search for reliable sources of information. There was also a low frequency of response to comments by Fiocruz. Regarding the formats of the publications, the research concluded that there were little experimentation and variation in the approach of the subject. Together, these two findings indicate the lack of use of important social networking potentials, which could be even more important in an epidemic situation marked by considerable uncertainty and fear as that of zika.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices

Author: Luí­s Amorim

Created in 2006, Piauí (a monthly magazine) is the most important of the few representatives in Brazil of the literary journalism genre – or “New Journalism”, the expression it first received from journalists and writers like Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese. The magazine covers different fields and science is one of the topics that receives great attention. Studies on media coverage of science have raised recurrent criticisms, such as: a tendency of overreaction about the results of a research; the overemphasis on a positive view of science; the stereotyping of the scientists image, the lack of different sources and specialists, the little attention given to the social construction of science, as well as to controversy themes.

In order to explore these aspects on Piauí stories, we are carrying out a study using a content analysis and some qualitative tools. Our sample was defined out of a search made of four keywords on the Piauí website, from which we got a total of 140 texts. In order to have a more in-depth analysis, we selected 42 representative texts. One of our main questions is whether the critics about the science journalism remains or not when this genre is combined with literary journalism. Our results indicate that the publication approach can help to create a scientific culture, by giving more editorial space, voice to different actors and by dealing with literary techniques that opens a door towards critical and more profound covering.

Author: Luí­s Amorim

Back in 2011, Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, a prominent researcher at Duke University (USA), announced that he would make a quadriplegic child operate an exoskeleton with his brain and then kickoff the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. The event would highlight the first public appearance of the Walk Again Project, coordinated by Nicolelis.

The objective of this study was to analyse the coverage carried by the major Brazilian newspapers Folha de São Paulo, Estado de São Paulo and O Globo about the Walk Again Project and the symbolic kickoff of the World Cup. We selected stories published between May 2011 and July 2014. Our preliminary analysis shows that the coverage in question contradicts in many ways the traditional way of covering science topics in Brazil.

Generically, we can say that science tend to be portrayed with an indelible aura, as if it wasn’t an activity subject to the same decision-making processes and disputes that permeate any other human activity. But our corpus presents a coverage that exposes the conflict between researchers and disputes over financial resources.

Another distinction is the representation of scientists; usually, they are portrayed in the media as cold, rational and far away from any personal disputes; in our case, the main character of the coverage, neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, is passionate, fanatic supporter of his football team, charismatic, stripped, popular but also controversial, egocentric and megalomaniac.