How Social Media Spreads Misinformation:
Since gaining popularity among internet users globally, Social Media has been known for spreading misinformation. On February 15, 2020, the spread of misinformation about COVid-19 became such an issue that the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated; “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic,” at a gathering of foreign policy and security experts in Munich, Germany referring to fake news that “spreads faster and more easily than this virus.” This term was originally featured on local newspapers during the SARS outbreak by David Rothkopf on May 18th, 2003.
However, the Director-General’s comment failed to receive the attention it needed. In a matter of months, the widespread misinformation about COVid-19 has led to global panic, caused companies to lose billions, governments to shut down, generalized anxiety, and even suicides due to the lack of clear solutions. In the past, we at The Global Touch Foundation have spearheaded this issue with the Post Responsibly campaign. During this campaign, we urged users to post with caution because what we post can negatively trigger others regardless of intention. We are still in the early stages of this understanding and that is why we have been curating content, hosting events, and partnering with organizations, locally and nationally, to bring Social Media Awareness to the masses. Social Media is always evolving/updating and we see things as they are posted. When used irresponsibly, misinformation unintentionally becomes a form of psychological warfare. It is now so significant that it was addressed on the global health community stage as an “infodemic.” However, within two months, since the presentation, there have been no further mention on any major platforms. This shows the need for awareness to address concerns for people’s mental and behavioral health when they regularly use Social Media to stay updated on the growing pandemic.