In a new article published in The Conversation on March 22, 2020, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies professors S. Harris Ali and Fuyuki Kurasawa examine the ramifications of misinformation shared through social media during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Through investigating the coronavirus-related information vacuum taking shape on various social media platforms, Harris Ali and Kurasawa argue that governments, public health organizations, and digital corporations need to combat the spread of misinformation - which could potentially spawn an irreversible "post-truth" age, even after the current pandemic dissipates.
"When complex emergencies arise, public officials are cautious about making premature pronouncements, instead carefully crafting statements to ensure accuracy and avoid the pitfalls of misinterpretation and exaggeration." the professors explain. "Somewhat paradoxically, this careful approach may also contribute to the formation of an information vacuum that rumours and falsehoods are all too ready to fill."
Several examples in recent months have illustrated the manner in which this misinformation has fuelled pre-existing biases and prejudices - compromising outbreak response and increasing public confusion in the process.
"In the digital age, the time needed to analyze, assess, and communicate information cannot compete with the instantaneous spreading of misinformation on social media platforms."
Read the full article published in The Conversation here: