Coronavirus outbreak: Canadians urged not to “panic buy”; Should schools close over COVID-19?

Health officials around the world are not only fighting to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but are also working to tackle a minor issue that the WHO calls “infodemic.”.

The organization determines infodemics – an overabundance of information (both reliable and not), the presence of which makes it difficult to find and identify reliable sources. The problem is also compounded by the simplicity and speed of information dissemination in in social networks.

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, appeared in China in January and has now infected about 85 thousand people worldwide.. Now on the Internet it is easy to find false statements about how it all began, the number of infected and dead. Also in the network there is an abundance of proposals for magical healing from a new ailment..

«In the case of COVID-19, due to the growth of social media platforms in recent years, information is spreading faster than the virus itself.», – said Alexander Kuzmanovich, social media manager for WHO.

In an effort to help people sort the vast majority of information on the internet, he says, the organization works directly with social media to ensure that users are guaranteed links to trusted sources.. Social media users on a number of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, looking for information about the coronavirus now primarily receive information from WHO, the Centers for Disease Control or their national ministry of health..

As digital disinformation campaigns become more sophisticated, WHO and other global health officials must do more, said Seyema Yasmin, director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative and a former Epidemic Intelligence Officer at the Centers for Disease Control..

WHO urges media not to panic over COVID-19

«We’ve already seen rumors and anti-scientific messages spread during Ebola. The anti-vaccination movement is not new. However, WHO often only responds with brochures. This is not enough now. Anti-scientific publications have become more sophisticated and targeted at vulnerable populations», – noted Seema Yasmin, director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative and former Officer of the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control.

She urged health officials to be more proactive in tackling the ongoing health misinformation problem online.

Some social media platforms have taken further steps on their own to combat false information.

Facebook stated that it will remove content with fake drugs or other false claims about the coronavirus, as well as messages that create confusion in the search for information.

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