Beware of the Dangers of Covid-19 Infodemic

PRINDONESIA.CO | Monday, June 22, 2020
Di masa pandemi Covid-19, pemerintah tidak lagi memiliki energi dan amunisi yang sama untuk menghadapi krisis komunikasi seperti di masa sebelumnya.

Since Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that this outbreak is not just a pandemic, but also has the potential to cause infodemics — excessive information about related viruses.

JAKARTA, PRINDONESIA.CO – The flood of information both accurate and hoax information has the same impact. Namely, making people nervous, confused to find the right guide, and do not trust the government. As a result, they tend to look for information that provides emotional security.

"Infodemic makes people hungrier for information, and not for objective information, but information that confirms their previous conviction," said Engelbertus Wendratama, a senior researcher at PR2Media, when speaking at an online talk show titled "Radicalism and Hate Speech During the Covid-19 Pandemic” held in HBM.TV Jakarta on Thursday (23/4/2020).

This condition then prompted Wendra to conduct a survey aimed at seeing the experiences of Indonesians in the sea of information on the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, disinformation related to Covid-19 occurred most on WhatsApp (WA). Not on television, official government sites, or printed media.

Therefore, he emphasized the importance of government public relations practitioners to aggressively produce accurate and disseminating information content through the WA application. There’s no need to bother creating video content or PDF files with information that is too long and convoluted. "It is enough with a simple text that contains interesting and accurate information," he said. By itself, people are interested in sharing it to their WA group chats.


Meanwhile, according to Bima Marzuki, CEO and founder of Media Buffet PR & Social Media Marketing, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government no longer had the same energy and ammunition to face the communication crisis as it was in the past. Because everything has been focused on handling Covid-19. Therefore, Bima emphasized three main priorities that must be carried out by the government.

First, avoid communication blunders. Watch for information going in and out and make it one door. If this is not possible, at least one party must arrange it to avoid contradiction. "Many blunders occurred because all parties speak with their respective egos without thinking of the implications in the future," he explained.

Second, gain public trust. This is important because if the government is no longer trusted by the people, it will be increasingly difficult for the government to control the people if one day there are more precarious conditions than now. And third, message consistency.

Bima then offered tips on developing a communication strategy during the pandemic: listening and analyzing public perceptions more intensively; monitor and analyze the context of speech on social media and mainstream media; exercise control over who can speak, what is said word for word based on analysis, and when is the right time to speak; and maintaining message consistency and data transparency. (ais)