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Infodemics: a problem in the making and the making of a problem 
Michael Rabi (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This panel seeks to engage different perspectives, approaches, and cases regarding dynamics, processes, and actions that pertain to 'infodemics' - information and its circulation as a threat or problem, in various domains and emergency settings (e.g. public health, security, and climate change).

Long Abstract:

Emergencies that occurred in recent years, especially COVID-19, have drawn attention to an important transition that is encompassed by ‘infomedics’, a initially coined by political analyst David J. Rothkopf, who observed during the 2003 SARS epidemic that ‘A few facts, mixed with fear, speculation and rumor, amplified and relayed swiftly worldwide by modern information technologies’, thus creating ‘a global economic and social debacle’. However, as the term evolved and spread into various contexts, it has generally referred to an uncontrolled and excessive spread of information that is false or misleadingly inaccurate, especially (but not only) through digital communication systems. Facing the problem of infodemics, various actors – from policymakers and scientists to communication specialists and ethicists – have assembled to create knowledge, regulate, monitor, and intervene on this phenomenon. From these efforts, a new form of expertise has emerged: ‘infodemiology’.

This panel invites papers that investigate, study, critique, or illuminate contemporary power dynamics, historical and political processes, and concerns and actions that relate to information and its circulation as a threat or problem in various contexts and fields, especially (though not exclusively) in settings that relate to emergency: public health, security, and climate change. The panel aims to bring together diverse theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, and empirical cases to facilitate a nuanced, comprehensive, and critical conversation around questions such as: How did concerns with false, intentionally deceptive, or misrepresented information develop in recent years? How do such concerns differ from similar concerns throughout history? How are ‘infodemics’ constructed as threats, by whom, and towards what ends? How are those threats managed within and across national, regional, and global settings? What assumptions and values underly the understanding of infodemics and responsibility for the spread of mis/dis-information? How do emergencies drive or shape the emergence of infodemics as a problem?

Accepted papers:

Session 1