Governmental actions to address COVID-19 misinformation

Jennifer L. Pomeranz, Aaron R. Schwid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Since COVID-19 emerged, a plethora of misinformation has undermined the public’s ability to identify reliable sources of accurate information. To identify the range of methods governments used to address COVID-19 misinformation, we conducted a content analysis of international media and evaluated government actions in light of international law, which protects freedom of expression and calls on governments to guarantee this fundamental right even during a pandemic or other emergency. We identified five categories of government activities: (1) disseminating and increasing access to accurate information; (2) restricting access to accurate information; (3) disseminating disinformation, false information, and misinformation; (4) addressing commercial fraud; and (5) criminalizing expression. The goal of addressing COVID-19 misinformation is best served by protecting expression, disseminating factual information, ensuring strong protections for whistleblowers, and supporting an independent media environment. Conversely, governments undermine public health when they create a state of uncertainty and violate human rights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Public Health Policy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Commercial fraud
  • Disinformation
  • Freedom of expression
  • Information
  • Misinformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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