Infodemic: Coronavirus and the fake news pandemic
The spread of rumors on social media is hampering efforts to fight the epidemic, the organization says
The World Health Organization has warned that false information about the new coronavirus has been spreading on social media, hampering efforts to combat the epidemic. To date, more than 20,000 people have been infected with the virus and at least 427 have died. Most of the infections and almost all deaths, with the exception of two, were recorded in China.
According to experts, epidemics of diseases often give rise to information epidemics, since at first there is little information about the nature of the disease and the associated risks..
Unfortunately, the search for answers often generates a lot of false information and rumors. Sylvie Briand, Director of the WHO Department of Pandemic and Endemic Diseases, notes that the flow of false information on social media is a serious problem..
“Several centuries ago this phenomenon also existed, but at that time there were no social networks, so information spread, but much slower than now. Nowadays, information spreads extremely quickly and immediately spreads around the world. At this speed, it is difficult to react in a timely manner, ”she says..
WHO is partnering with Google, which has launched a new SOS Alert project that allows people to access important and accurate information about the coronavirus. Other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tiktok are also taking steps to contain the spread of false information..
Briand says getting the right information to the public is not always easy..
“However, I believe that this is one of the challenges of the 21st century, because we all use these fast communication methods, but we can also become victims of them. That is why it is extremely important to characterize the phenomenon and develop methods for effectively combating it, ”she said..
At the same time, Briand emphasizes that the key to combating the spread of false information is not censorship. Instead, you should try to provide answers to people’s concerns in the best possible way, taking into account the information currently available.. More information will become available as new information emerges and a clearer understanding of how the coronavirus spreads..
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