Not Just a Pandemic, an Infodemic!
Health Promotion Specialist
What is the problem?
- An infodemic is an excessive amount of information about a problem like COVID-19 making it hard to sort out what is accurate and what is not.
- Easy access to cell phones and social media make it easy to spread misinformation, drowning out reliable information about COVID-19.
- Prominent public figures (e.g., politicians, celebrities, etc.) make up 20 percent of the misinformation, but account for 69 percent of the social media engagement. Be critical of where your information is coming from
Why is it a problem?
- A tsunami of misinformation has contributed to increased COVID-19 burden in the US.
- Misinformation can lead to attitudes such as, "COVID-19 isn't serious," "I can't catch COVID-19," "My body is healthy so even if I do catch COVID-19, it won't be a problem," "There is little to no chance of me catching it". These perceptions lead to lack of desire to practice prevention measures.
- People fail to practice prevention due to misinformation, thus increasing the spread of the disease.
What is the solution?
1. Look for facts and evidence and consider the sources of information
2. Choose carefully by only sharing or liking content from trusted sources
3. Be cautious by not sharing or liking false information you know is not true
4. Be a good example by correcting or calling out others who post untrue information
5. Spend less time online
- Pan American Health Organization. (2020). Understanding the infodemic and misinformation in the fight against COVID-19. https://iris.paho.org/bitstream/handle/10665.2/52052/Factsheet-infodemic_eng.pdf
- Tasnim, S., Hossain, M., & Mazumbder, H. (2020). Impact of rumors and misinformation on the COVID-19 in social media. Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53, 171-174. https://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO202016151586109.pdf
- Bagherpour, A. & Nouri, A. (2020). COVID Misinformation is Killing People: This “Infodemic” Has to Stop. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/covid-misinformation-is-killing-people1/
- Brennen J.S., Simon, F., Howard, P.N., & Nielsen, R.K. (2020) Types, sources, and claims of COVID-19 misinformation. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/types-sources-and-claims-covid-19-misinformation
- World Health Organization. (2020). Infodemic Management. https://www.who.int/teams/risk-communication/infodemic-management