WHO releases public health taxonomy for social listening on monkeypox conversations

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a public health
taxonomy to support infodemic monitoring and insights generation of
monkeypox conversations. The technical document provides an overview of
how social listening can be applied to monkeypox conversations which can
be used to generate infodemic insights for public health response.
Taxonomies are used to better organize and frame analytics, especially
when integrating data sources of varying types and quality.

This
approach was first used during COVID-19, when WHO developed a to
integrate multiple online and offline data sources to generate weekly
recommendations for action. At the start of the multi-country outbreak
of monkeypox in 2022, this same approach was quickly applied and adapted
to social listening activities. This technical document was codeveloped
in collaboration with field epidemiologists and several country health
authorities.

Despite best efforts by health authorities to get
information to communities quickly in an acute public health event, the
breadth of the exchanges, the diversity of sources and the polarity of
opinions in today’s rapidly evolving information environment have
sometimes resulted in indiscriminate amplification of both verified and
unverified information. The infodemic, or the overabundance of
information, including false or misleading information, that accompanies
every acute public health event leads to confusion, concerns,
risk-taking and behaviour that can harm health, can prolong or amplify
outbreaks and reduce the effectiveness of response and interventions.

Social
listening, a methodology whereby online and offline conversations are
synthesized into actionable insights, has been adapted to public health
response to provide a way for health authorities to develop real-time
insights from changes in millions of everyday public conversations and
better tailor programmes and interventions to the needs of communities. Social listening combined with integrated analysis,
helps public health professionals generate evidence-based insights to
inform their response and has been applied in countries for COVID-19 and
is now being applied to other emergencies and outbreaks.

The
issuance of a flexible taxonomy for monkeypox will allow countries to
quickly identify and organize questions, concerns, information voids,
narratives and mis/disinformation from across different data sources –
which will in turn allow for a more systematic and routinized approach
for data collection and analysis.

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