When one takes a breath and looks at the current news on COVID-19, we begin to realize that the information about the pandemic travels almost as fast as the virus itself. Essentially, we are living with what could be termed one pandemic inside of another.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that COVID-19 has reluctantly given way to what they are terming an “infodemic"—quite simply put inaccurate information about the virus itself, its origin, and even the process and speed at which it spreads.
With anything and everything that is remotely pertaining to COVID-19 flooding over social media like a massive tsunami, coupled with algorithm after algorithm, the virus remains in the public consciousness literally 24/7.
For example, the recent announcement of the upcoming release of 5G networks, there are those who somehow have attempted to link the network to the current coronavirus. Given that it was given life by a theory circulated by mainly New Agers and followers of QAnon, it wasn't long before it was also being seen on the Instagram accounts of noted celebrities.
Even given that social networking apps, such as Twitter, are tightening up their policies on posts, there are still those that show up on their pages. WhatsApp, owned by those over at Facebook, has taken to limiting just how many times a specific message can be forwarded to other users on its platform.
With this action, WhatsApp says they hope to curb any further conspiracies from infiltrating, taking root, and given life over multiple groups. Other social media sites have gone so far as to show buffered messages and warn users of the information across the top of their search pages.
However, there is a flip side to all of this—and many experts feel that it makes the current problems even worse. As COVID-19 pandemic spreads, and we see the day to day infection and death rates associated with the virus, it is becoming more and more evident that the suppression of information on the outbreak is serving to cause problems.
When officials and primary information sources are perceived as untrustworthy, the climate is primed for the spread of not only misinformation but that same misinformation going viral. COVID-19, from day one, has given birth to a massive generation of rumors and speculation.
The current landscape of information, or ongoing misinformation, undeniably morphs and changes on a day to day basis. As such, one must perform their own due diligence in an effort to weed through the misinformation to get to the actual truth.
Is misinformation serving to make the whole COVID-19 crisis appear worse than it actually is?