What’s an infodemic?
An infodemic comes from 2 words; “epidemic” and “information”. Together, an infomedic is when people are hastily given lots of news and information about the same topic. Whether it’s misinformation, updates, opinions and facts and some facts mixed with false information or exaggerated sources.
This could be very confusing as some people come from other countries where they do news differently e.g other countries could have only a few news channels whilst we have over 470 free tv channels, in the UK alone!
In my point of view, I believe that an infodemic is a problem for different reasons like, as I said before in the examples could cause stress, confusion, anxiety and happiness, over the wrong things that aren’t even true.
The main reason why an infodemic is a problem is because people might believe that wrong information is true and true information is false, this can make people have less trust in the media. If they believe the wrong information, they won’t protect themselves and the community. They could also start a riot (which is a type of protest, as we’ve learnt that in our past issue) and injure people, damaging things, families could lose their homes and go to prison. The people who believe that coronavirus isn’t real because of fake news, meet up with others, and spread the virus even more which could lead to more restrictions and more severe deaths.
People also only tend to share things that they agree with. So if people are sharing a lot of fake news, and lots of people believe it, it's easy to get sucked into a bubble that is actually completely different to the real world - and a long way from the truth.
1. How does an infodemic spread misinformation?
As I said before, infodemics is a rapid spread of true AND false information. This would make it hard to see whether it’s true or not. During this time, there’s going to be a rapid increase of misinformation because people want to know more information about covid e.g. how are handling covid and what are future steps?
Why can this be a problem?
This can be a problem because some people might believe misinformation which could encourage them to do fake and wrong things; “BREAKING NEWS!, prime minister decides we’re going to have another lockdown that starts on 1st April and ends on 23rd September, during which time schools will be closed until further notice”. This example gives the impression that kids will not go to school and once people find out it’s fake news, people will also think that Borris Johnson is lying.
My top tip is to double check your sources of news and ask yourself these questions;
Has the story been reported anywhere else?,
Is it from a reliable source?
If there’s a photo or image, has it been taken out of context?
2. What’s the link between the news and mental health?
The link is that because covid is a serious, life-threatening situation, it’s all over the news whether it’s social media or just a newspaper. As I’ve said before, people want to know how we’re handling the number of deaths or vaccines. It’s also on the news because they want everyone to stay safe by warning and telling us all the rules on the news.
Why can it be a problem?
This is a problem because people might just start posting fake things about how to stay safe or anything to do with covid. This adds to the already jam-packed social media as well as the news which is very overwhelming and confusing. This could cause stress as most adults working-from-home and some also have kids, so having something else to think about (covid) which is very important is very stressful and some people already can’t cope because of all of this.
My top tip is the same as before and to also take a break from your daily news, but in addition, you could get those people who do your laundry or get you food while you relax properly and spend more time with your kids.
3. How can news sources use the same number in different ways?
There are lots of ways to use numbers in the news, especially if it’s about covid, for example, how many new cases are there? How many people died in the last 24 hours?. Other ways to use numbers in the news is by using percentages to compare things; high and low numbers.
Why is it a problem?
It’s a problem because numbers in the news could be used for both positive and negative news and sometimes even when it’s positive people will think it’s negative based on the wording of the news. It’s like the phrase; the wrong end of the stick.
My top tip is to read the news carefully and read it over and over again if it doesn't make sense to you.
4. How can the media shape a story?
The media can shape a story because there are lots of ways of passing on news, for example, tv, radio and newspaper.
Is it a problem?
It’s not a problem because these are the ways we use to pass on important information and news and these examples aren’t known to be giving misinformation.