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Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - January 2021

The six sources of COVID-19 misinformation

I have noticed that there has been quite a bit of discussion recently about COVID-19 misinformation and particularly what is causing it. However, I kind of disagree with the way many are talking about this, because the problem is way more complicated than just 'blaming social media'.

If I look back at 2020 as a media analyst, I would characterize the misinformation we have seen as coming from six different sources. And let's explain each one.

Note: This article is part of my series of things we (the press) should change in 2021.

Misinformation from the top

One of the main sources of misinformation has come 'from the top', meaning it has come from political leaders, prime ministers, presidents, and government healthcare administrators.

The misinformation we have seen here is based on three different things.

First, we have seen how country leaders have intentionally misinformed the public to hide their own failures. Some countries have been worse than others in this regard.

Secondly, we have seen how health officials/ministers have provided inaccurate and misleading guidance because they were protecting something else. Sometimes this wasn't done with malice. Sometimes it was just to try to manage the crisis with whatever limited resources were available at the time.

For instance, here in Denmark, we saw a perfect example of this back in March 2020. Back then, the country of Denmark (like so many others) was running out of masks, and we were desperately trying to order more to keep our healthcare workers safe.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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