Coronavirus Misinformation: Quantifying Sources and Themes in the COVID-19 'Infodemic' [open pdf - 0B]
From the Executive Summary: "The World Health Organization has stated that a parallel 'infodemic' of misinformation is undermining efforts to combat the ongoing COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic. This study identifies the most prominent misinformation topics that appeared in traditional and online media in the early phase of the pandemic, from January 1 up to May 26, 2020. The results come from a sample of 38 million articles published in English-language media around the world, making this the first fully comprehensive study of COVID misinformation in the media yet carried out. One major finding is that media mentions of President Trump within the context of different misinformation topics made up 37% of the overall 'misinformation conversation,' much more than any other single topic. The study concludes that Donald Trump was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation 'infodemic.' In contrast only 16% of media mentions of misinformation were explicitly 'fact-checking' in nature, suggesting that a substantial quantity of misinformation reaches media consumers without being challenged or accompanied by factually accurate information. These findings are of significant concern because if people are misled by unscientific and unsubstantiated claims about the disease, they may attempt harmful cures or be less likely to observe official guidance and thus risk spreading the virus."
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