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‘Sticking to the facts’ – how to deal with the Coronavirus ‘Infodemic.’

It can be hard to remember back to a time, not so long ago, when many of us had never even heard of the term Coronavirus.

Since the beginning of the year there has been an explosion of news articles, books, graphs, and videos being published on the internet about Covid 19. Coronavirus is a huge topic in search interest. But when there is so much information out there, how do you know who to trust?

This is the first pandemic in history in which technology and social media are being used to keep people connected and informed on a massive scale. Whilst this has had a huge impact upon how effectively health messages are disseminated, these same mechanisms are allowing misinformation to be amplified, which in turn jeopardize measures to control the pandemic.

The Director General of the World Health Organisation has previously described the huge amount of Coronavirus misinformation as an ‘infodemic.’ Stating that ‘fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as deadly. ‘

 ‘An infodemic is an overabundance of information, both online and offline. It includes deliberate attempts to disseminate wrong information to undermine the public health response and advance alternative agendas of groups or individuals.’

‘Where there is an abundance of information – some accurate and some not, that deluge of information can make it harder to access reliable information.’

A BBC team tracking coronavirus misinformation has found links to assaults, arsons and deaths.

Whilst sharing someone’s anecdotal post from facebook, doesn’t seem like a big deal, experts say that there is potential for indirect harm caused by rumours, conspiracy theories and bad health Information.

Passing on information can feel like one way we can support family and friends, however we should all be thinking about how potentially misleading information could affect others too. Try not to share information without fact checking against credible sources.

The organization ‘Every Mind Matters’ suggest that one way to reduce anxiety surrounding coronavirus is by considering ‘limiting time spent watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media. 

If you do want to know more its important to ‘find a credible source you can trust such as GOV.UK or the NHS website and fact check information that you get from newsfeeds, social media or other people. ‘

‘You could also use the GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp. This automated chatbot covers the common questions about Coronavirus.’


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