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.