Writing for Business Insider, health policy communications thought leader Jove Oliver warns that in addition to the deadly threat of the virus, we face a related threat in the form of the cloud of disinformation and fake news emanating from obscure sources around the Internet. This misinformation can have deadly consequences itself, as well as potentially exacerbating social conflict. Oliver observes:
“COVID-19 is the first pandemic in the emerging 5G era. In today’s rapid-fire online marketplace of ideas, conspiracy theorists, scammers, and anti-vaxxers put out false information that spreads more quickly than ever. Kathleen Hall Jamieson at the University of Pennsylvania calls this phenomenon ‘viral disinformation’ or ‘VD.’ Like the sexually transmitted infections she names it after, VD spreads easily from person to person and both are bad for you.”
Companies have a role to play in staunching the flow of misinformation by carefully considering their own communications, Oliver adds:
“If you are a public company , you have a duty to your employees, shareholders, and customers to think clearly and carefully about how you communicate about COVID-19. The CEO is said to be the new politician, and what she or he says carries similar weight.”
Oliver offers the following advice to business leaders:
“Following the public health communications roadmap for pandemics works just as well for government authorities as it does for CEOs. That is tell people what you know. Tell them what you do not know. And tell them what you are doing about the unknown. Put forward public spokespeople who can calmly and clearly deliver these facts.”
Read the full article, with additional advice, here.