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EDITORIAL | Information needed now




THE CORONAVIRUS disease (COVID-19) is the first pandemic in history in which technology and social media are being used on a massive scale to keep people safe, informed, productive and connected.

At the same time, the technology we rely on to keep connected and informed also amplifies an infodemic that undermines the local and even global response, sometimes jeopardizing measures to control the pandemic.

An infodemic is an overabundance of information, both online and offline. It includes disseminating wrong information on public health response, which may be deliberate or due to the inability of netizens to identify whether the source being passed on is true or not.

Mis- and disinformation can be harmful to people’s physical and mental health or further fan the flames of fear and confusion even with the availability of the vaccines, especially for some who are already burdened by the anxiety of the pandemic.

Immunization campaigns (or campaigns to promote effective vaccines) and how vaccines are provided by the local health units might be one of the concerns of vulnerable senior citizens, at this time. Facebook has become the platform for senior citizens to raise their frustrations on how the vaccines are being rolled out. It’s not all bad news, however. Some are glad that they got their first dose, an assurance they will be safe from the life-threatening virus.

In this context, the UN Secretary- General launched the United Nations Communications Response initiative to combat the spread of mis- and disinformation in April 2020. The UN also issued a Guidance Note on Addressing and Countering COVID-19 related Hate Speech (11 May 2020).

We are at the height of inoculation. Information is important in this crucial time when there are still people who remain ambivalent in getting the vaccine.

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