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Between Monday 23 March 2020 and Monday 30 March 2020, misinformation about Authorities has increasead whereas misinformation about Cure has reduced.

The Fact-checking Observatory is an automatic service that collects misinforming content on Twitter using URLs that have been identified as potential misinformation by fact-checking websites. Using this data, the Fact-checking Observatory automatically generates weekly reports that updates the state of misinformation spread of fact-checked misinformation on Twitter.

This analysis is limited to URLs identified by Fact-checking organisations. The collected data only consist of non-blocked Twitter content and may be incomplete.

This report updates the status of misinformation spread between Monday 23 March 2020 and Monday 30 March 2020.

117,743 Misinforming Tweets
New:+20,604 Trend:-11,270
24,599 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+6,866 Trend:+753
10,803 Fact-checks
98 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 23 March 2020 and Monday 30 March 2020, 20,604 new URLs have been identified as potential misinforming content. Out of the 7 topics identified by Fact-checking organisations (Figure 1), most of the new shared URLs were about Authorities with an increase of +9,101 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic. The topic that saw the least increase in spread compared to the previous period total spread was Symptoms with a change of +103 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic.

The topics used for the analysis are obtained from the COVID-19 specific fact-check alliance database and are defined as follows:

  1. Authorities: Information relating to government or authorities communication and general involvement during the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., crime, government, aid, lockdown).
  2. Causes: Information about the virus causes and outbreaks (e.g., China, animals).
  3. Conspiracy theories: COVID-19-related conspiracy theories (e.g., 5G, biological weapon).
  4. Cures: Information about potential virus cures (e.g., vaccines, hydroxychloroquine, bleach).
  5. Spread: Information relating to the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., travel, animals).
  6. Symptoms: Information relating to symptoms and symptomatic treatments of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, sore throat).
  7. Other: Any topic that does not fit directly the aforementioned categories.

In relation to the previous week, the topic that saw the biggest relative spread change was Spread with a change of +383 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic whereas the topic that saw the least relative change was Spread with a change of -9,720 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Other with a total of 55,298 URL shares and the least popular topic is Symptoms with 1,403 shares (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Topic Importance.

Figure 2: Amount of topic shares per week.

The top misinforming content and fact-checking articles shared since the last report are listed in Table 1 and Table 2.

Misinforming URL Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://twitter.com/DrMattMcCarthy/status/1243891663162019841 LeadStories Authorities 2281 0 2281
https://www.worldometers.info/ Agencia Ocote Authorities 2084 1798 6432
https://twitter.com/WellingMichael/status/1241491706677284870 EFE Verifica Spread 1825 579 2404
http://ucrtv.com/royal-palace-confirms-queen-elizabeth-tests-positive-for-coronavirus/ Dubawa Other 1346 0 1346
https://twitter.com/bilio_muydunuz/status/1242017693726904320 Teyit Other 1113 0 1113
https://worldnewsdailyreport.com/covid-19-chinese-health-authorities-confirm-patient-zero-had-sex-with-bats/ BOOM FactCheck Cure 927 0 927
https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/03/hmm-seiu-union-in-california-suddenly-finds-mysterious-stash-of-39-million-face-masks-3-days-after-ag-bill-barr-announces-theyre-going-after-hoarders/ FactCheck.org Other 864 0 864
https://nypost.com/2020/03/24/new-york-hospitals-treating-coronavirus-patients-with-vitamin-c/ Open Cure 690 0 690
https://www.check-corona.com/checker Fatabyyano Other 627 0 627
https://twitter.com/Swamy39/status/1242473628739854337 The Quint Authorities 580 0 580

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/04/facebook-posts/president-obama-declared-h1n1-public-health-emerge/ Authorities 336 173 2810
https://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2020/03/27/coronavirus-et-hydroxychloroquine-le-couple-buzyn-levy-cible-de-publications-mensongeres_6034663_4355770.html Conspiracy Theory 205 0 205
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/25/donald-trump/donald-trump-misses-key-facts-claim-new-york-gover/ Authorities 205 0 205
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/16/blog-posting/no-pelosi-wasnt-caught-trying-add-abortion-funding/ Authorities 194 167 361
https://aosfatos.org/noticias/e-falso-que-inicio-do-surto-de-h1n1-foi-mais-mortal-que-o-de-covid-19/ Other 194 0 194
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/17/instagram-posts/celebrities-are-sharing-misleading-post-about-trum/ Authorities 185 231 416
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/27/those-covid-19-death-toll-figures-are-incomplete/ Authorities 178 0 178
https://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2020/03/26/coronavirus-combien-de-temps-le-sars-cov-2-reste-t-il-infectieux-sur-des-surfaces_6034549_4355770.html Cure 144 0 144
https://factuel.afp.com/le-coronavirus-les-verifications-faites-par-lafp Other 142 41 223
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/16/joe-biden/biden-falsely-says-trump-administration-rejected-w/ Authorities 102 688 790

Table 2: Top fact-checked content.


The data used for creating the Twitter dataset is obtained from the Poynter Coronavirus Fact Alliance. The alliance consists of 98 fact-checking organisation based in 635 countries and covering 46 languages.

The largest amount of fact-checked content comes from English (6,130 fact-checks) and the least is Finland (1 fact-checks). Most fact-checked content is in Spanish (3,367) followed by Portuguese (1,998) and French (963) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Amount of fact-checks by language.

Figure 4: Amount of fact-checked content per contry.

Determining a direct impact of fact-checking on the spread of misinformation is not easy. However, it is possible to determine how well a particular corrective information is spreading in relation to its corresponding misinformation.

Figure 5 shows how misinformation and fact-checking content has spread in various topics for the last two analysis periods and overall.

Figure 5: Topical misinformation and fact-checks spread.

Demographic Impact

Using automatic methods, Twitter account demographics are extracted for user age, gender and account type (i.e., identify if an account belong to an individual or organisation).

Figure 6 displays how misinformation and fact-checks are spread by different demographics.

Figure 6: Misinformation and Fact-check spread for different demographics. Top: Gender, Center: Age group, Bottom: Account type.

Data Collection and Methodology

The full methodology and information about the limitation and dataset used for this analysis can be accessed in the [methodology page](https://fcobservatory.org/faq/).