Creating a Real-Time Rumor Management System for COVID-19

Risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) are critical aspects of a robust public health response during infectious disease events like the COVID-19 pandemic. One aspect of RCCE is creating a real-time rumor management system – understanding rumors circulating in communities and addressing them through mass media, social media, and community engagement.

Setting up a rumor management system enables those working on COVID-19 RCCE to craft an evidence-based and effective response by better understanding the misinformation and rumors circulating in communities. A systematic communication strategy with associated monitoring can then be implemented.

In this technical brief, rumor management refers to a system to identify, track, and address rumors as well as to monitor how well the system is working to counter rumors. This document includes important considerations and resources to support country programs in creating a functional rumor management system, enabling two-way communication with affected communities. It also includes guidance on obtaining feedback from communities on their beliefs (including rumors, misinformation, and disinformation), disseminating accurate information, and monitoring these approaches. Implementing this system while maintaining physical distancing is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This fact sheet was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Breakthrough ACTION and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.