Original Research

WHO Digital Intelligence Analysis for Tracking Narratives and Information Voids in the COVID-19 Infodemic

May 25, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is the first to unfold in the highly digitalized society of the 21st century and is therefore the first pandemic to benefit from and be threatened by a thriving real-time digital information ecosystem. For this reason, the response to the infodemic required development of a public health social listening taxonomy, a structure that can simplify the chaotic information ecosystem to enable an adaptable monitoring infrastructure that detects signals of fertile ground for misinformation and guides trusted sources of verified information to fill in information voids in a timely manner. A weekly analysis of public online conversations since March 23, 2020 has enabled the quantification of running shifts of public interest in public health-related topics concerning the pandemic and has demonstrated the frequent resumption of information voids relevant for public health interventions and risk communication in an emergency response setting.