Skip to main content

WHO calls Coronavirus the first massive ‘infodemic’

by Futures Centre, Feb 21
1 minute read

The World Health Organization warned on 2 February that the 2019-nCoV outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’, defined as “an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”.

The WHO says it is working 24 hours a day to identify the most prevalent rumours that can potentially harm the public’s health, such as false prevention measures or cures. Measures include partnerships with social media giants Twitter, Facebook, Tencent and TikTok, and a Google SOS alert to promote WHO information in the search engine.

Anxiety levels in response to the virus are high, creating another public health concern and exacerbating contagion risk, as stress weakens the immune system.

Moreover, panic has led to a rise in Sinophobia, including racism and harassment online and widespread reports of discrimination against people of Chinese origin, as well as those mistaken for Chinese, both in their home countries and abroad.

What can we learn from the epidemic to strike a better balance between emergency public health warnings and the need to protect and strengthen social cohesion in times of crisis?



by Futures Centre Spotted 1994 signals

Have you spotted a signal of change?

Register to receive the latest from the Futures Centre.
Sign up

  • 0
  • Share

Related signals

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone. For more information on how these cookies work, please see our 'Cookies page'.