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The other virus: the “Infodemic”

Twenty-twenty will always be remembered as the year of fear, sacrifice and uncertainty due to the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Unfortunately, this year was not only characterized by the spread of such a disastrous contagion, but also by the diffusion of another pandemic: the ‘infodemic’, that is disinformation.

Since the appearance of the Coronavirus, we have relied on the web to look for news, clarifications and information like never before, but we have also witnessed a dissemination of fake news brought by social media, newspapers and politicians.

Infodemic: this is the word used for the first time by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to describe the unprecedented circulation of false information surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “an excessive amount of information about a problem that is typically unreliable, spreads rapidly, and makes a solution more difficult to achieve”. And who are the main players in this situation? Media companies like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and other platforms we interact with every day.

Sadly, the journalistic world has also been “infected” with this disease, because numerous reputable newspapers have been guilty of creating clickbait titles for the mere purpose of making a profit.

Some countries have even taken this situation as an opportunity to create political propaganda. A report conducted by EUvsDisinfo claims that China and Russia in particular have taken advantage of this epidemic for economic interests.

The Chinese government has attempted to disclaim its responsibility for not having informed the world health institutions in time of the spread of the virus, while the Russian one has tried to increase the already existing distrust in European and American institutions by questioning the gravity of the pandemic itself.

According to the General Director of the WHO, we have to fight the infodemic in the same way we are fighting the pandemic. In fact, it is having a negative impact on people’s health by creating panic and anxiety. It is also increasing the mistrust in science and in government decisions.

So, in which way could we stop this phenomenon?

Since everyone has a role to play in the fight against infodemic, one of the solutions would be to refer only to trusted resources and to verify the information we read before disseminating it. Each of us, in their own small way, can help stop this corruption in the media that is killing information and ethical journalism.

Articolo a cura di: Marijana Jovanovic

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