According to new data from Forrester’s PandemicEX survey, employees trust their employers as a source of information about COVID-19 and the coronavirus more than they trust governments and social media sites. The takeaway for employers is that infrequent communication about this rapidly changing issue can leave employees anxious and more vulnerable to disinformation campaigns.
Disinformation Campaigns Designed To Stoke Outrage And Increase Anxiety Are Already Successful
The Washington Post reported on an unreleased report inside the United States Department of State that found approximately 2 million tweets amplifying conspiracies related to COVID-19 from January 20 to February 10. These campaigns included falsifying the source of the virus, rampant racism, and other narratives designed to distort the truth. Riots and attacks in Ukraine began when a fake email stated that evacuees from China had contracted the virus.
Influence operations targeting healthcare aren’t new, and recent lessons from both the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the “anti-vaxxer” movement demonstrate that public anxiety over health-related issues is fertile ground for disinformation campaigns. Companies are an essential — and trusted — source of information about COVID-19, so they must communicate frequently or risk leaving their employees susceptible to disinformation campaigns.