Addressing the Infodemic: Everyone Must Play a Role in Stopping Mis- and Disinformation
We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. We’re also in the middle of a global infodemic. We need to stop the transmission occurring in both ‘demics’.
In one of our BCCDC guest blog posts this month, we heard from a research team studying the impacts of COVID-19 misinformation. Their study uncovered interesting findings in relation to misinformation, communication preferences, and stigma.
But, what is an infodemic?
According to the research team, an infodemic is a flood of information. This includes misinformation or the spread of wrong information, and disinformation, or the intentional sharing of information in at attempt to undermine.
Right now, we’re experiencing a dangerous time of misinformation and disinformation. This can be deadly—so too can a concurrent pandemic and infodemic.
According to the World Health Organization, “disinformation is polarizing public debate on topics related to COVID-19; amplifying hate speech; heightening the risk of conflict, violence and human rights violations; and threatening long-terms prospects for advancing democracy, human rights and social cohesion.”
We’ve all seen the impact that misinformation and ‘fake news’ can have—there are many examples. It’s too easy to find ourselves surrounded by information that is not based in evidence—it’s all at our fingertips 24/7—but the spread of incorrect information around the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly concerning, and damaging on a global scale.
Information is available, from so many sources; and information can be power. Unfortunately, many of those sources are not acceptable; many of those sharing information from poor sources that are not equipped to speak to the content; and worst of all, misinformation in the wrong hands can cost lives.
And every single one of us has a responsibility to tackle this issue.
In this age of information—over-information at times—it’s our duty as consumers of that information to be cautious, read or listen with care, and when you do share, ensure it’s from evidence-based and reputable sources.
Stop for a moment before you share.
Use your critical thinking skills to evaluate the content.
Look at the source: is it reputable and current?
Do some research, dig a little deeper, or speak with someone you know who is knowledgeable on the topic.
Teach your kids. (Check out these lessons by I Boost Immunity on how parents can fight misinformation from home.)
Take the time to discuss evidence-based information offline, too. Speak to your friends, family, and colleagues, have open dialogue, and don’t assume that because you saw it on social media it must be true.
To share or not to share?
It’s in your hands to push that button or make that post, so make sure you know that what you’re sharing is reputable and genuinely serves the conversation—and don’t be afraid to speak up when you see false information being spread, especially if it’s an intentional act to undermine the truth.
We have too much to worry about these days. Information should be a good thing; it’s a privilege to have access to brilliant experts, researchers, journalists, organizations, colleagues, and friends at our fingertips.
Help spread positive information to raise awareness of this global issue. The United Nations (UN) has created a campaign to do just this: Pledge to Pause.
“Misinformation is disrupting our society, our economy and our health. With the current pandemic, it can even be deadly. Misinformation is also making it harder to tackle the world’s most pressing issues. The climate emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic, the struggle for racial justice—to find a solution, we need to work together.”
The UN offers a global call to action to pause before you share, and to share responsibly.
We take up this cause and we call on you today to do your part. One of the most significant ways we can Activate Health is stop the spread of mis- and disinformation.