On June 25, 2020, NYHealth hosted a webinar on how misinformation impacts public health and health care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has killed more than 117,000 Americans, led to a loss of nearly 40 million jobs, and triggered states of emergency across the nation. It is viewed as the worst public health, economic, and national security crisis in more than a century.

The spread of misinformation—misleading and/or false information—through social media platforms deepened the crisis by delaying authoritative responses to the pandemic by weeks, if not months. Many of these social media accounts were found to be run by bots, which are autonomous programs that can spread spam or a virus over a network like the Internet. False claims and conspiracy theories resulted in delays that cost thousands of American lives. According to a recent study, had the United States imposed social distancing one week earlier than it did in March 2020, at least 36,000 fewer people would have died.

Dr. Joseph Smyser, President and CEO of Public Good Projects discussed how the increasing sophistication of misinformation exacerbates the COVID-19 pandemic; shared his work in tracking misinformation through Project VCTR (Vaccine Communication Tracking & Response); and explored what needs to be done in the public health and policy fields to counter this devastating phenomenon.

Watch a recording of the webinar here.

Sign up to access Project VCTR here.

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