Massive spread of misinformation over social media during the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health of populations. Social media are among the cheapest and most quickly accessible information sources for a large section of the public, in search of news that is reliable, true, precise and based on conscientious editing. From a Positive Transcultural Psychotherapy (PPT) viewpoint, these secondary capacities – reliability, honesty, precision and conscientiousness – are among other psychosocial norms that sustain psychological well-being, including primary capacities such as time, trust, hope, security and doubt. Also, from a PPT perspective, the energy and time spent by a person in online spaces and activities affects the well-being in the four life dimensions, while those primary capacities (and emotional needs) remain at the basis of emotional well-being. The research employed the systematic review of literature in several open-access scholarly websites from February 2020 to March 2022. The paper reviews the existing research on how disinformation and excess time in fake news spread over social media has the potential to corrode the abovementioned actual capacities, trigger negative emotions, mislead the public in undertaking wrong decisions for their health and well-being, and constitute a serious threat to both public health and social order, as well as to individuals’ sense of security.
Keywords: COVID-19, psychological well-being, mental health, positive psychotherapy, actual capacities, life dimensions, social media, fake news, disinformation, conspiracy theories