DISINFODEMIC: an epidemic worse than COVID-19 itself?

BY: CLAIRE KIM

Fake news feeds on paranoia. Devours such vulnerability, causing more pain and suffering than necessary. The truth becomes lacking. And all that is hopeful is pushed to the side, behind the worries prevalent in the air.

This phenomenon is primarily seen during times of crisis: WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and most recently the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Referred to as “disinfomedic”, this sensation occurs when large numbers of fabricated information are circulated on the internet. Utilizing exaggerations, false data, and “click-bait” style headers, these news articles promote ideas lacking in real value for consideration. In fact, a majority of the news reports on the Internet right now is filled with non-sensical information, painting a false reality of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

From assumed confirmations of a vaccine to superstitious commentary on the origins, remedies, and potential side effects of the coronavirus, articles gain enormous amounts of views for the most ridiculous news sourcing. In fact, the World Health Organization (aka WHO) has even addressed the absurd amount of fake news in circulation by establishing a separate page on their website titled “Mythbusters”.

Just go to their website: https://www.who.int/

Click on “Health Topics”. Then, Click on “Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak. And lastly, click on the tab “Public Advice”. Now, get informed with real data and expert-confirmed information!

So why is this happening? Well, living in a country, a world that revolves around the stability of the economy, many, if not most large corporations are trying to capitalize on the situation in any way possible. For them, life and death are not related to their health but the business, the political campaign they desire to maintain.

Ultimately, the controversy behind fake news during this time of fear is dangerous. “When disinformation is repeated and amplified, including by influential people, the grave danger is that information which is based on truth, ends up having only marginal impact” (Guy Berger, Director for Policies and Strategies regarding Communication and Information at UNESCO). This is one of many factors that have led to the massive disrespect against the Asian community.

Truly, the coronavirus has contaminated not only our physical health but also the legitimacy of media online and our readiness to accept it.

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