Social Media Role in Misinformation About Covid-19 Pandemic

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Social media role in misinformation about Covid 19 pandemic In Nigeria

ABSTRACT


The world is facing the extensive spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus This epidemic puts intensive pressure on healthcare, economic, and social structures. Commitment to implementing effective approaches for public health will take bold interventions by public health professionals and strong leadership by the nation’s governing bodies. During this crisis, lack of awareness, knowledge, and preparedness would put people and health care staff at risk. The dilemma is how to pass the knowledge of current disease statistics and its prevention to the general population at a rate equivalent to or better than the spreading epidemic. At the same time, a huge amount of health-threatening misinformation is spreading at a faster rate than the disease itself. The major proportion of this false rumor is disseminated in the web-2 era through social media. Thus, delivering fast, accurate and reliable information addressing critical problems of infection control is, therefore, of key importance. This review outlines both the positive and negative impact of social media during coronavirus epidemic on health-care professionals and on the general population. However, if used wisely and prudently, social media serves as a powerful tool for changing people’s behavior and to promote the well-being of individual and public health.

INTRODUCTION

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or extreme severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), as it is now known, is rapidly spreading in India and to the rest of the world from its origin in Wuhan City, China, This deadly and life-threatening virus infected 2,549,632 people and resulted in 175,825 deaths around the world.

During sudden outbreaks, the public needs access to timely and reliable information about the disease symptoms and its prevention.Nowadays, social media are often seen as fast and effective platforms for searching, sharing, and distributing health information among the general population.

Also, social media serves to provide an important informal source of data to identify health information that has not been reported to medical officers or health departments and to uncover or share perspectives on any life-threatening health-related issues.But this channel of disseminating knowledge sometimesmixed with scare tactics, discrimination, misleading reports and conspiracy theories related to the origin of the virus, its spread and mass buying of face masks, all closely connected to the modern 21st century “info media” social media networks. Despite the importance of rapid access to information in these critical situations, poor comprehension or inaccurate or false information in the format of rumors or unreliable news can lead to misunderstanding in the community, which makes the situation worse.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), calls this the battle against “trolls and conspiracy theories.” Misinformation creates confusion, and spreads fear, hampering the outbreak response. “Misinformation on the coronavirus might be the most contagious thing about it.These circumstances can lead to an increase in the people’s unnecessary expectations requiring diagnostic, medication, or referral services as for instance taken as shortage and black marketing of face masks and hand sanitizer in India. As for low- and middle-income countries with limited health services, this can make the situation worse because these nations don’t have enough workforce and financial resources to cope up with this epidemic. Yet India is managing with its own level at its best, but it seems like the virus’ potential path is uncertain. Hence, this review provides a bird’s eye view of the impact of social media on the general population during this CoV epidemic. Government and health professionals must embrace and make plans for the use of social media, work together, establish limits and build guidelines for its usage, and above all, make them work for the general population.

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