Published: 3 August 2021
A new Public Health Wales guide has been devised to help communicators and people working with social media to know how to deal with misinformation about the virus.
Organisations focussed on preventing transmission and mitigating harms of Coronavirus in Wales recognise the potential of false information to influence public behaviour and undermine the impact of their efforts. There have been increasing calls for guidance to help more effectively tackle false information particularly online.
Developed by National Health Protection Response Cell at Public Health Wales, ‘Guidance for Countering False Information about Coronavirus or the Behaviours which Prevent its Transmission’ sets out, easy to use, effective actions that can be taken by public sector communications teams to minimise the impact of false information about Coronavirus.
The guide will enable communications teams to respond appropriately to misinformation on social media, with clear actions on how best to deal with misinformation on line and how to debunk myths about Coronavirus.
The guide highlights the approach of avoiding repeating false information, and being selective about which pieces of misinformation to address head-on, summarising advice into an easy-to-use flow chart to help communicators know when and how to engage most effectively.
Katrina Hargrave, Senior Public Health Practitioner at Public Health Wales, said: “The first, and most natural reaction we have when seeing misinformation online is to want to respond and correct the false claims as quickly as possible. However, in many cases this only adds to ‘bump-up’ the false information in people’s social media feeds and promote it further.
“The pandemic has vastly increased the number of people using social media to gain information that could potentially affect their health-related behaviours, but unfortunately so has the amount of misinformation. It is critical that those working in health-related communications are equipped with the tools to support their response to misinformation, ensuring they retain control of the narrative and their reputation as trusted sources of information.
“We believe this easy-to-use guide offers this support.”
The guide is free to download and can be accessed here: