‘Infodemic’ Poses Bigger Danger than Coronavirus | Be Korea-savvy

‘Infodemic’ Poses Bigger Danger than Coronavirus

A slew of fake news has emerged following the outbreak of the new coronavirus in South Korea. (Yonhap)

A slew of fake news has emerged following the outbreak of the new coronavirus in South Korea. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, March 17 (Korea Bizwire)A so-called ‘infodemic,’ a swarm of fake information that incites fear of the coronavirus, is undermining efforts to limit the spread of the pandemic.

As fake information piles up, people are less likely to find trustworthy information about the infectious disease, inciting fear and conflict among social constituents rather than a rational approach.

South Korea, too, is falling victim to fake information as it incites unnecessary confusion and anxiety.

“An infected patient engaged in a fist fight with medical staff, taking their masks off as he demanded to be discharged”, “Members of the Shincheonji cult have penetrated a hospital, obstructing medical work”, “A local hospital is leaving a suspected patient unattended,” are some of the false rumors easily found on online forums and social media.

All of them, according to police investigations, turned out to be fake news.

The Korea Communications Standards Commission has vowed to ask service providers to delete the posts and block access of those who uploaded the posts.

Experts argue that fake news is like a ‘poisonous mushroom living off of people’s anxiety’.

“In times when we can’t afford a breadth of mind, it becomes more difficult to filter such information,” said Prof. Whang Sang-min from Yonsei University.

The fact that there isn’t enough verified information about the new pandemic is also a factor that generates fake information.

“We are going through this coronavirus pandemic experience for the first time, so there isn’t much information about it that we can trust,” said Prof. Kwak Keum-joo from Seoul National University.

“In a situation where information is unclear, fake rumors that are believable spread like wildfire.”

Fake news should be strictly dealt with, since it not only affects everyday life, but also causes social damage, experts say.

“Overrated anxiety over the coronavirus makes people stay at home. Some even live like cave people,” said Prof. Lim Myung-ho from Dankook University.

“Fake news can also cause panic attacks, lethargy, depression, and other psychological symptoms.”

H. M. Kang (hmkang@koreabizwire.com)

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