This story is part two of Word In Black’s Health Misinformation series, exploring the ways Black folks can identify false information and verify credible health sources. Read part one.
Black folks are known for their cookouts, family gatherings, and functions. Sharing a meal is central to the culture — and so is talking about the latest gossip you heard from your auntie. Misinformation is like a rumor that seeps into BBQs and late-night chats. Sometimes it can be harmless, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it became deadly.
“We know, the death consequences of the vaccine misinformation and disinformation were severe,” says Reed Tuckson, M.D., the co-founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID. “People died unnecessarily because of all the nonsense out there that caused many people to not want to get vaccinated.”
Social media, politicians, and frightening tactics all contribute to the spread of misinformation and disinformation. The difference between the two is that misinformation is false or inaccurate information unintentionally spread as fact, while disinformation is the deliberate spread of false information with the intent to mislead.