by Nick Bowers, BGSU History major. This is one in a series of posts written by students in HIST 4800 in Spring, 2020, putting our world into historical context for the public.
As we endure the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a worrying and stressful time. And to complicate matters even further, we are living in a truly global age when we can receive information in real time. The dissemination of misinformation, also known as “fake news,” has become almost synonymous with social media. I must admit that I have fallen for false stories online more times than I care to remember. During the pandemic I have seen an up-tick in the amount of questionable information that make me ask “Wait, really?” only to look into it further and see a complete fabrication, and it would seem I am far from the only one. I wondered how our previous generations experienced fake news, and what lessons we may be able to take from them. What I found is that the concept of fake news hampering disease response and breaking down social cohesion is nothing new.