For the first time in history of the world spread of the virus can be traced online. The Internet creates additional opportunities to counter the disease, but also causes a side effect called «infodemic.”
Dozens and hundreds of websites publish various unverified information about the coronavirus every day, and social media becomes a tool for manipulation, rumor dissemination and spread of the knowingly false information about the new disease. For the first time, the term «internet virus» can be applied to the physical space, which makes people all around the world panic.
“My dad contracted the coronavirus”; “20,000 COVID-19 cases in Moscow”; “Coronavirus is a biological weapon” – such headlines can now be seen everywhere posing a real threat to Internet users.
The Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Ghebreyesus claimed he was concerned over the fake news spreading “faster and more easily than the virus.” He stressed that the WHO has to combat not only spread of the COVID-19, but also spread of the fake news, which he called “infodemic.”
“We call on all governments, companies and news organizations to work with us to sound the appropriate level of alarm, without fanning the flames of hysteria,” WHO head stated.
The word “coronavirus” has already become the word of the year, yet, as one of the Russian psychologists suggested, it should be removed from the agenda and replaced by “pneumonia,” as it causes hysteria, which may pose even greater threat than the virus itself.
Vesna News — official website