5 ways governments worldwide handle COVID-19 misinformation

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Ever since COVID-19 emerged, there has been a surplus of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the pandemic that governments have not always been successful in combating, according to an article published Jan. 28 in the Journal of Public Health Policy.

Legal scholars from New York University and global health organization Vital Strategies analyzed hundreds of articles about the pandemic from international media outlets between February and May of 2020.

The researchers identified five prominent approaches countries have used to handle misinformation about COVID-19:

  1. Disseminating and ensuring widespread access to reliable information.

  2. Making commercial fraud efforts known so consumers do not buy ineffective or dangerous COVID-19-related products.

  3. Decreasing access to accurate information by withholding information or preventing its release by journalists, health officials and whistleblowers.

  4. Spreading misinformation or disinformation.

  5. Criminalizing expression by prosecuting journalists and citizens under new and existing laws.

The most effective approaches governments should adopt to protect their citizens against COVID-19 misinformation are disseminating accurate information, protecting expression, enacting strong protections for whistleblowers and supporting an independent media environment, according to study author Jennifer Pomeranz.


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