As panic surrounding the novel coronavirus spread, so did rumors about its causes and cures leading to a spurt in COVID-19 fact checks. The most worrying trend is that of simplistic fake news making the way for sophisticated disinformation campaigns spread via social media. This has subjected more and more people to such shenanigans, causing unnecessary fear, uncertainty and doubt about vaccine rollout programs and related issues.
While the pandemic is only the latest example of the harm misinformation can cause, the malicious playbook used during COVID-19 could easily be replicated during future crises, posing significant challenges to us all. Staying alert and prepared will be critical. While there is no vaccine for fake news, digital tools and communication strategies will play a key role in mitigating risks it poses.