Amnesty International has released a report documenting how the pandemic affected freedom of expression and the impact of misinformation.
According to its findings, some countries have used censorship and punishment to reduce the quality and quantity of information reaching the public domain, thus damaging people's ability to understand how to deal with COVID-19.
Speaking to Euronews, Amnesty International researcher on human rights defenders Lisa Maracani said COVID-19 only aggravated a problem that had existed for years.
"We know that there is a shrinking civic space all around the world. This has been going on for years. But I think the pandemic precipitated this process," Maracani said.
She urged lawmakers to do more to regulate social media, pointing to their responsibility in spreading misinformation.
"We need digital regulations on them, and this can be done by looking at how they operate and their business model and how that algorithm functions because they are driving a certain type of information that is damaging," she told Euronews.
Maracani believes governments have enacted free speech restrictions that were unnecessary.
"We want states to stop going after people sharing information, going after journalists, going after human rights defenders. They really need to step back from that sort of censorship," the researcher said.
Watch the full interview in the video player above