Consistent, clear public health messaging during a disease crisis is essential. Yet managing media content raises challenges, particularly in the new social media. Join Professor Nancy Tomes from Stony Brook University in New York for this special Annual Lecture of the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH), Glasgow, when she puts the challenges created by the internet to public health messaging in long-term perspective.

Since the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic much media time has been dedicated to the public health message. Rather than a coherent message, multiple and inconsistent messages have proliferated, particularly by social media and which has created challenges. From overwhelming the public with conflicting messages, to raising questions and doubts about government initiatives, the internet has added new and diverse challenges to public health officials, politicians and the general public. This special iteration of our annual lecture focuses on the covid crisis and aims to put the challenges created by the internet to public health messaging in historical perspective. Understanding the historical challenges to public health reform can help us create a useable past and contribute to debates about how to reinvent public health post-covid, to ensure that it plays a more central role in society than it has in recent decades.

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