What does Infodemic mean?

An information epidemic caused by the rapid spread of false information

An infodemic refers to the rapid spread of false information which makes it hard to understand or deal with a problem. This phenomenon is becoming more frequent in the age of social media as users of platforms like Facebook and Twitter often share information without checking its reliability, context, or relevance.

Though the term infodemic became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was first used by writer John Smith in a 2003 article for The New York Times about the SARS epidemic. Smith described the “information epidemic – or ‘infodemic'” that accompanied the virus spread as making it “more challenging to control and contain the public health crisis.”

Since its inception, infodemics have grown in frequency and have become more harmful. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, several misinformed people were influenced by articles claiming that wearing a mask would make them more susceptible to the virus. Many credible sources later debunked this misinformation, stating that wearing masks is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Sadly, the damage caused by the infodemic had already occurred.

Example for using ‘Infodemic’ in a conversation

Hey, have you heard about this term ‘Infodemic’?

Yeah, I have! It’s like when there’s a viral spread of misinformation.

Exactly! It’s when false information spreads like wildfire, making it hard to solve problems.

I’ve seen it a lot on social media. People share stuff without checking if it’s true or not.