Coronavirus (906) Definition of infodemic (9)

16 August, 2020

Thanks for the reply, Neil, but it completely misses my points:

1. You said, "in April President Trump suggested that injection of disinfectant might be a good idea. Fortunately, not a single person (to my knowledge) acted on this." The second sentence is your words, and (as the articles showed) that sentence was completely wrong. In fact, many people have been harmed by taking disinfectant for COVID-19. So my point was that your comment (not just Trump's!) was misinformation. Alas, you were guilty of providing misinformation to the HIFA list about the dangers of disinfectant use.

2. So why did you offer this misinformation? Obviously not on purpose: you wouldn't have said that if you had read the articles referred to. No one can blame you for this - there's just too much information about COVID-19 pouring out for anyone to be able to read it all. As we have been saying, it's an nfodemic. But this perfectly illustrates my second point: the problem with an infodemic is that the volume and velocity of information is too great - EVEN when the information is accurate. You denied this latter point, saying "I ... maintain that accurate information that is useful to the user should not be included in the definition. I think the focus indeed should be on inaccurate information." And yet, as our exchange showed, in this case there was too much accurate information regarding the dangers of disinfectant use, and you were lured into making a misstatement.

I think this example clearly demonstrates that "WHO's definition of infodemic (an “overabundance of information” some accurate and some not ”that makes it harder for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when needed”) is correctly applied to both accurate and inaccurate information.



Chris Zielinski

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HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Global Health, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme at the University of Winchester. Formerly an NGO, Phi supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. Chris also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. He was the founder of the ExtraMED project (Third World biomedical journals on CD-ROM), and managed the Gates Foundation-supported Health Information Resource Centres project. He served on WHO’s Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. Chris has been a director of the World Association of Medical Editors, UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). UK-based, he is also building houses in Zambia. chris AT

His publications are at and and his blogs are and