Infodemic is a term formed from the words information and epidemic, which means the rapid and widespread spread of true or misleading information about something, where facts, rumors and fears mix, which makes it difficult to obtain important information on the topic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also used the term in early 2020.
In September, WHO, UN, UNESCO, UNICEF and several other international umbrella organizations issued a joint statement. They defined infodemia as an overabundance of information in the online environment and in real life, including deliberate attempts to disseminate false information to undermine public health and promote the agendas of individuals or groups.
The concept itself became known in the Washington Post column in 2003, when David Rothkopf wrote: “SARS is the story of not one epidemic but two, and the second epidemic, the one that has largely escaped the headlines, has implications that are far greater than the disease itself. That is because it is not the viral epidemic but rather an “information epidemic” that has transformed SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, from a bungled Chinese regional health crisis into a global economic and social debacle. The information epidemic — or “infodemic” — has made the public health crisis harder to control and contain. ”
Rothkopf clarifies: “What exactly do I mean by the “infodemic”? A few facts, mixed with fear, speculation and rumor, amplified and relayed swiftly worldwide by modern information technologies, have affected national and international economies, politics and even security in ways that are utterly disproportionate with the root realities. It is a phenomenon we have seen with greater frequency in recent years — not only in our reaction to SARS, for example, but also in our response to terrorism and even to relatively minor occurrences such as shark sightings.”
For example, Hannes Rumm has written about infodemic in the Estonian media in relations to the coronavirus in the columns of Lääne Elu as have researchers Péter Krekó and Patrik Szicherle in March in Vikerkaar.
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