Infodemics During Plague and Pandemic

A Comparison Study of Misinformation During the Black Death of 1665 and COVID-19


  • Isabelle Madsen


Starting in 1665 and ending in 1666, London had an episode of the Bubonic plague that left 100,000 Londoners dead. The 1665 Black Death was not the first time England faced a mass outbreak, but it proved to be a swiftly spreading disease that was running rampant in a city that was also rife with misinformation, suspicion, and faulty cures that only increased the death count. Many factors contributed to people’s willingness to embrace false and hokey remedies; plagues carry a history of conspiracy, and with every outbreak, more theories come into being. The accompanying surge of fraudulent cures only served to increase the panic Londoners felt. A similar situation has become prevalent in the current COVID-19 outbreak; the internet and social media have allowed for the mass consumption of misinformation that negatively affects public health and safety. 

Discipline: History
Faculty mentor: Dr. Aidan Forth