Falsehoods and the Patois of Pandemics: A Playbook


Dina Temple-Raston and Harvey Rishikof’s paper explores how falsehoods and misinformation have affected the public’s response to pandemics—both past and present. It describes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s field manual on epidemiology, and discusses New York’s failure to follow the manual at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paper also outlines the broad legal framework federal and state governments can use to communicate or enforce their powers in response to pandemics; and concludes by identifying unaddressed pandemic-related disinformation issues on social media platforms.

By Harvey Rishikof

Harvey Rishikof is a Visiting Professor at Temple Law School and Director of Policy and Cyber Security Research at the University of Maryland’s Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security.

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