Infodemic: A by-product of the pandemic

Source: Al Hakam

The only good thing about a pandemic is that their potential harm is eventually acknowledged, assessed and then combated with all possible means. Such united and focused effort at a global scale is what has seen tides turn in the past and we hope to see the same with this coronavirus.

But the worst thing about pandemics is that they bring along a number of social and moral issues that are left totally unattended or given very little attention.

One such socio-moral evil that has seen a spike directly proportional to that of the disease itself is misinformation.

Misinformation, as the name suggests, is the spread of false information. This moral pandemic needs to be addressed, before things get out of hand (if they haven’t already, that is).

With roots in irresponsible actions of individuals and having stemmed into social media groups, this tree has had branches spread into international politics. Society in general has always become ever more vulnerable to this moral vice in crises like the one we are going through these days – a global state of emergency.

Let us take a look at the “chain of transmission” of this virus of misinformation; very aptly is this process called “going viral”.

So we start from the very basic level. A member of the Jamaat fell ill and had to be admitted to hospital. He was quite a well-known figure in the Jamaat. The type of WhatsApp messages that began pouring in started off with enquiring what had happened, how it happened, whether it was Covid-19, and, very sadly, some even seemed inquisitive about the prognosis.

This all started off with a single message from an individual asked in a group, then sent out in further groups and then in even more groups. So an individual’s question kept getting multiplied every time and ended up transmitted globally in a very large number of groups.

Then started an even stranger series of messages, where everyone in all of those groups seemed to be pooling in any information that they had. The gentleman who had had a heart attack, ended up being “diagnosed” with a variety of illnesses and conditions by a variety of people in a variety of worldwide groups.

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