|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 1-2
Infodemics - Are We Losing Knowledge in Information?
Girish Malleshappa Sogi
Editor-in-Chief - Contemporary Clinical Dentistry, Department of Public Health Dentistry, MM College of Dental Sciences and Research, Maharishi Markandeshwar (Deemed to be University), Mullana, Ambala, Haryana, India
|Date of Web Publication||23-Mar-2022|
Prof. Girish Malleshappa Sogi
Editor-in-Chief - Contemporary Clinical Dentistry, Department of Public Health Dentistry, MM College of Dental Sciences and Research, Maharishi Markandeshwar (Deemed to be University), Mullana, Ambala, Haryana
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Sogi GM. Infodemics - Are We Losing Knowledge in Information?. Contemp Clin Dent 2022;13:1-2
“We're not just fighting an epidemic; we're fighting an infodemic.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, February 15, 2020
Epidemics are unforeseen and are usually marked by uncertainty, confusion, and a sense of emergency. The present COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest health crises the world has ever witnessed, and the magnitude of the speedy spread of infection created a state of panic worldwide that has led to exponential generation of all kinds of information creating an information epidemic or infodemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has rightfully stated that COVID-19 outbreak is accompanied by a massive infodemic, a term coined in 2003. An infodemic is an overabundance of information – including mis/disinformation – that occurs during an epidemic. Analogous to an epidemic, an infodemic refers to rapid transmission of information in a brief period, via online and offline information systems. Much of the information that constitute infodemic messages circulating on social media comes from unreliable sources which are not originating from verified entities, such as newspapers, health agencies' official website, or other trusted sources. Google search with COVID-19 reveals a total of 4.2 billion results which is clearly an overwhelming amount of information, making it hard for people to choose a reliable piece of information. Such an overabundance of information makes it difficult to standardize normativity of what is right or wrong, or of authenticity versus manipulation. In addition to direct impact on health and well-being of the people, there are other indirect consequences which are much harder to measure; misunderstanding of health information, disease-related stigma and mistrust in government, science, experts, public health authorities, response to interventions to outline a few. Understanding the gravitas of the situation, the WHO has also launched an international program on infodemiology, just like epidemiology of any other disease. Another UN agency, the UNSECO states “while information empowers, the infodemic disempowers.” Too much information can also give rise to a feeling of disorientation, which may make people hopeless, lose the perception that they have any control over what happens to them, paralyze them from taking action, or take inappropriate actions out of desperation. During health emergencies such as an epidemic, people need substantial information to adapt their behavior and protect their families and communities against infections. With the accelerated digital connectedness, the infodemics has affected citizens around the globe and managing it has become one of the equally important challenges for countries. The WHO Information Network for Epidemics produced a guiding framework for managing the COVID-19 infodemic, which focuses on measuring and monitoring the impact of infodemics during health emergencies, detecting and understanding the spread and impact of infodemics, responding and deploying interventions that protect against the infodemic and mitigate its harmful effects, evaluating infodemic interventions and strengthening resilience of individuals and communities to infodemics, and promoting the development, adaptation, and application of tools for managing infodemics. Outbreaks of pathogens and misinformation are ultimately local, so none of this can be effective without local community participation. Every citizen can do their part by trusting the reliable sources, identify evidence before accepting the information, avoid spreading fake news, participate responsibly in social conversations, and report harmful rumors; if the information is not confirmed, it is better not to share and Keep Learning.
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