The spread of the coronavirus across the world is viral, in the common, medical sense of the term. A parallel pandemic has simultaneously erupted, too: A virtual, viral infodemic of misinformation.
What is an “infodemic”
The World Health Organization described an ‘infodemic’ at their February meeting as “an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it. The WHO has been working closely to track and respond to myths and rumors circulating about COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus that causes it. However, the so-called infodemic is spreading even faster than the virus itself. It is a troubling trend that started even before the global public health threat today.
How do we fight it?
Anita Makri writes from London on science and global development, and has covered previous health emergencies, including the 2014 Ebola epidemic in west Africa. Lessons learned then can help to dispel rumors and myths about COVID-19, Makri asserts. To battle misinformation successfully, she says, we must try to understand it.
A typical reaction to misinformation is to dismiss it, or to wish it would disappear. In an essay originally appearing in Undark (and later republished by the London School of Economics), Makri explains why we would be better served by examining it closely.
“There is an impulse to correct that is a long tradition in science and even in science journalism,” she tells CCC’s Christopher Kenneally. “There is an impulse to say, ‘No, we have the right answer because we’ve done the research.’ But more and more, we are realizing that sometimes that impulse isn’t entirely correct and that there is also value in trying to understand why people hold the views that they do.”
In order to fight the infodemic of misinformation, Copyright Clearance Center has made available numerous resources and thought leadership from a publishing perspective on COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus that causes it. We encourage to view our COVID-19 Resources Page as well as our Velocity of Content blog posts on the subject, including:
COVID-19: Beyond the Headlines
Publishers Putting Research & Information to Work Against COVID-19