As governments and citizens around the world have struggled with the novel coronavirus, the information space has turned into a battleground. Authoritarian countries, including Russia, China and Iran, have spread disinformation on the causes of and responses to the pandemic. The over-abundance of information, also referred to as an ‘infodemic’, including manipulated information, has been both a cause and a result of the exacerbation of the public health crisis. It is further undermining trust in democratic institutions, the independent press, and facts and data, and exacerbating the rising tensions driven by economic, political and societal challenges. This article discusses the challenges democracies have faced and the measures they have adopted to counter information manipulation that impedes public health efforts. It draws seven lessons learned from the information war and offers a set of recommendations on tackling future infodemics related to public health.

European View

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