Disinformation has caused panic among the population and as a result of citizens’ habit to read unchecked information, most of the time are false news, and these have reached a large part of the general public.
The “infodemics” phenomenon had been spreading rapidly in the past few weeks. Numerous and diverse disinformation is distributed since the moment the reporting about the coronavirus or Covid-19 began. Due to the large number of disinformation throughout the world, the World Health Organization began using the term infodemics in order to designate the disinformation about the coronavirus that is distributed.
Societies worldwide, apart from the fight against the coronavirus pandemics, also, should be fighting the infodemics, a term that the WHO has put into use in order to explain the publishing of incorrect information that is hindering the people to find certain and confidential sources and instructions when they need them most. Therefore, infodemics is a disease that has infected the information with lies.
The coronavirus appeared towards the end of the last year in the city of Wuhan, China, and along with the correct reporting, on social media many untrue information was shared. The disinformation has spread on all popular technological platforms along with the panic around the virus that infected over 400.000 and killed more than 19.000 people worldwide. The disinformation are distributed on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Viber, WhatsApp and other platforms.
In Kosovo, the Facebook, is one of the main sources of information and disinformation. We live in times that are full of disinformation, and lately, these have oriented towards the coronavirus subject, due to the enormous interest by citizens worldwide to know more about this virus, either about its dangers or to seek protective measures.
The social media have shown that they are unreliable sources of information during times of crisis and confusion. When a fog is set in the world of information, evil men can have a benefit of spreading various disinformation about the pandemics which is taking lives each day. In a period of two and a half months, 4.000 new websites were created that are mentioning the coronavirus in their title and, three percent of those were created to spread disinformation. But, the biggest danger of the infodemics is the spread of information on part of people on social media.
In Kosovo, the citizens, who are locked inside their homes, more than ever have been informing themselves via Facebook. This social medium is the main source during this quarantined period. Apart from the news about the coronavirus, the citizen is also exposed to an avalanche of disinformation. Disinformation that have caused panic among the citizens and as they have reached a large portions of the population. Disinformation such as the following: “Children is immune to the coronavirus”; “A vaccine against coronavirus exists”; “The Chinese government has built hospital overnight”; are among the most distributed by our citizens that aren’t even aware of the damage caused and have become a part of the manipulation.
Lets disinfect the internet pages, by taking information only from trusted sources and always analyzing them critically. Otherwise, we shall contribute to the spread of infodemics that is primarily causing panic among the population. Just like we were asked to take measures regarding the coronavirus pandemics, also regarding the infodemics, we all have to take protective measures by wiping out pages that spread disinformation by checking information received from social media, with information either from official sources by state institutions or serious media.
Author: Dren Gerguri- lecturer at the Department of Journalism/University of Prishtina