From UC Berkeley News
Understanding and seeking equity amid COVID-19
By Kara Manke
In recent weeks, alarming statistics have emerged detailing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black communities, Latinx communities and other marginalized groups in the United States.
In today’s Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19 event, Jennifer Chayes, associate provost of the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society and dean of the School of Information, spoke with three UC Berkeley experts about how relying on data and algorithms to guide pandemic response may actually serve to perpetuate these inequities — and what researchers and data scientists can do to reverse the patterns....
Niloufar Salehi, an assistant professor in the School of Information, is developing tools to help combat misinformation and conspiracies about the coronavirus that are proliferating online. Her efforts are hampered by the fact that much of this “fake news” is spreading within private groups of friends and family members where it is hard to track, she said.
To help combat data’s potential to perpetuate disparities, she suggests researchers start by challenging the narratives of individual responsibility that often blame marginalized communities for their own struggles.
“I think one [narrative] that is very dangerous is that black and Hispanic people are dying in record numbers because of their own risky behavior,” Salehi said....