Former CDC Director on How to Combat Fake News About COVID-19

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Fake news has become more and more of an issue in recent times, and this includes Facebook posts around how COVID-19 is spread, misleading information about the death count and more. 

And with all of this information, how can both the mainstream media and public health officials counter misinformation for fake news especially the stories that could put lives at risk?

Dr. Tom Frieden, former CDC director and the CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, joined TheStreet to discuss his thoughts on fake news and how we can be better about combating it. "Between someone who has worked 30 years fighting viral threats in public health and someone who has opened a Twitter account, I think some people see those as equivalent," Frieden said. 

Frieden said it is critical that the general public increase its literacy in scientific issues immediately. 

"As scientists, we need to level with people: this is what we know, this is what we don't know, and this is how we know it. I think we can trust people more with that kind of information," Frieden told TheStreet.

“There seems to be barely an area left untouched by disinformation in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, ranging from the origin of the coronavirus, through to unproven prevention and ‘cures’, and encompassing responses by governments, companies, celebrities, and others," Guy Berger, director for Policies and Strategies regarding information at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization told the UN News back in April 2020.

A working paper from Ciara Greene and Gillian Murphy at Ireland's University College Dublin and University College Cork explored the impact of false information on people's actions. The study, which had over 3,700 participants, of which "the majority of participants were well-educated, with 2,395 participants (64%) having earned at least an undergraduate degree..." found that “exposure to misinformation was associated with small but significant changes to two of the four critical health behaviors assessed.”

Of course, this study was centered across the ocean, specifically in Ireland, but how can the U.S. be better about approaching fake news around the pandemic?

You can follow Katherine Ross on Twitter at @byKatherineRoss.

Read more from Katherine Ross here.

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