Communication to counter the COVID-19 ‘info-demic’

Rumours, mis- and dis-information about the new coronavirus COVID-19, including false cures and how the disease is spread, have been described as an ‘info-demic’ by the WHO Director-General. They can be as harmful as the virus itself.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, BBC Media Action is working to counter mis- and dis-information, alongside our partners Translators Without Borders, Evidence Aid and Internews, and funded by the H2H Network, with the support of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). 

Launching in six countries in Asia (Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal and Indonesia) BBC Media Action teams are creating clear, fact-based social media content, and running smaller community outreach initiatives to combat mis- and dis-information and the stigma of infection.

Scaling up fast

We’re committed to supporting the international response to COVID-19, and wherever possible are ensuring our content is suitable for audiences across the globe. Led by our office in Bangladesh, and in partnership with Translators without Borders, Internews and Evidence Aid, online audio-visual content will be translated into multiple languages for maximum accessibility, and it will be created using insights from social media monitoring and rumour-tracking.

As the scale of this ‘info-demic’ grows, the need for trusted and accurate information has become even more vital. We’re finding the most effective ways to share accurate and engaging content for both individual countries and audiences worldwide. And most importantly, our communication will encourage audiences to question what they read, before they share online – with the aim of improving both health and digital media literacy. 

Trust matters

This work draws on our experience of dispelling rumours and combatting mis-information in other major epidemics and disease outbreaks, such as Ebola, and reflects our commitment to supporting the global response to COVID-19. It is critical to help audiences engage with accurate information they will trust, believe and share.

In Myanmar we are producing Thangyat songs - a popular form of traditional folk music - to help make sure people know about the info-demic and that they engage with the correct information about the outbreak. Thangyat combines poetry, dance and music and is sung to the beat of a traditional drum.

In Indonesia the team are using social media to raise awareness. They’ve produced a comedic video suggesting different ways of saying hello to friends without shaking hands. Watch here.  

In India, Cambodia and Nepal we’re supporting local media outlets, social influencers and governments to ensure people are able to distinguish what the correct information is, amid many rumors about COVID-19. 



Project information
Project name Countering COVID-19 info-demic (H2H)
Funder H2H Network (backfunder DFID and hosted by Danish Refugee Council)
Dates 2020 - ongoing
Theme Health

Multi country social media content and outreach activities