The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently issued an Infodemic Management News Flash, warning of the dangers of an infodemic of “too much information, including false or misleading information, in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak.” The WHO states that this infodemic can lead to increased distrust of health authorities and hinder efforts to control the spread of disease.
To address this issue, the WHO has announced that 132 member states have signed a cross-regional statement on the infodemic, urging countries to strengthen their efforts in combating the spread of misinformation. The statement calls for the establishment of national and international coordination mechanisms to address the infodemic, and for the development of strategies to counter false or misleading information.
To combat the infodemic, the WHO recommends that governments and health authorities work with social media platforms and other stakeholders to identify and remove false or misleading information, and to promote information from government-approved sources on disease outbreaks.
The WHO has faced criticism for promoting censorship and the restriction of free speech, particularly in relation to its efforts to combat misinformation about current public health policies. Some people disagree with it taking a political stance and promoting only certain sources of information. As one of the largest financial contributors to the WHO, the U.S. has a stake in ensuring that the organization respects the fundamental right to freedom of expression and does not engage in censorship. The U.S. Constitution prohibits governmental bodies from promoting a specific political point of view, making it important for the WHO, as an international agency funded by the U.S. government, to maintain neutrality and impartiality.