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Concerns Grow That Fake News And Misinformation Online Surrounding COVID19 Is Affecting Peoples Mental Health

Concerns regarding what is being described as an ‘infodemic’ of false information being shared online include potentially harmful ‘cures’ for COVID19, government conspiracies and anti-Asian propaganda. If you or any of your family are affected by anything touched on within this article, follow the links to our various support services or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to start using Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant.

Concerns are growing that fake news and misinformation surrounding the current global crisis are negatively affecting people’s mental health.

Health experts and government authorities are concerned about the increasing amount of misinformation online regarding COVID19 and the effect this is having on the mental wellbeing of internet users.

As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to affect everybody’s lives, people are trying to learn more about the virus and how to stay safe through the internet and social media. Unfortunately, when searching for accurate and reliable information, internet users are complaining of being served a tide of coronavirus related content that is either inaccurate or completely untrue.

“We’re going to see all kinds of different theories and ideas about what the impact of this virus is, shrouded in circumstantial evidence, and because we can’t source many of these materials, especially on social media, it’s going to become a serious problem in the long run.”

Joan Donovan, Director of Harvard University’s Technology and Social Change Research Project

There are a number of concerns regarding what is being described as an ‘infodemic’ of false information being shared online that includes potentially harmful advice on ‘cures’ for COVID19, alarmist reports of government conspiracies and anti-Asian propaganda which is all contributing to anxiety and stress for those already affected by the global lockdown.

Governments are now working with social media companies to identify and remove content flagged by global health organizations and health authorities for containing false claims or conspiracy theories that could cause harm to people who believe them.

“We have seen an increase in anxiety and depression related enquiries to Cybersmile Assistant, our AI support assistant since the beginning of this crisis. It is crucial that people who are looking for reliable information regarding COVID19 understand that some online content on the subject is not reliable or evidenced. News that is not factually true is not only unhelpful and dangerous but can also cause unnecessary emotional trauma. We recommend internet users try to fact-check information across a number of reliable sources.”

Dan Raisbeck, Co-founder, The Cybersmile Foundation

An interactive learning module focusing on dealing with misinformation and fake news online is accessible through the Cybersmile Education Program. The program is suitable for all ages, free-to-use for everybody and covers a wide variety of topics including Gender Awareness, Online Safety, Digital Wellbeing, Positive Gaming and many more.

In the U.K. the government is working with social media companies and disinformation specialists from civil society and academia to establish a comprehensive overview of the extent, scope and impact of disinformation related to coronavirus and have re-launched the ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign, urging people to question and fact-check what they read online.

If you are affected by anything touched on within this article or any kind of negativity online, we can help you. Visit our Help Center or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to open Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant. To learn more about Cybersmile and our work, please explore the following recommendations:

What are your thoughts on the amount of fake news and misinformation during this pandemic? Let us know by contacting us or tweet us @CybersmileHQ.