13 min read

Between Monday 06 April 2020 and Monday 13 April 2020, misinformation about Cure has increasead whereas misinformation about Authorities 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 06 April 2020 and Monday 13 April 2020.

145,247 Misinforming Tweets
New:+15,545 Trend:+3,586
38,297 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+6,110 Trend:-1,478
10,803 Fact-checks
98 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 06 April 2020 and Monday 13 April 2020, 15,545 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 Cure with an increase of +5,795 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 +449 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 Cure with a change of +3,586 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic whereas the topic that saw the least relative change was Cure with a change of -2,585 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Other with a total of 62,500 URL shares and the least popular topic is Symptoms with 2,013 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/soapachu/status/1246793653294686208 PolitiFact Causes 3726 2349 6075
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/us/politics/coronavirus-trump-malaria-drug.html Factcheck.kz Cure 3468 0 3468
http://web.archive.org/web/20200405061401/https://medium.com/@agaiziunas/covid-19-had-us-all-fooled-but-now-we-might-have-finally-found-its-secret-91182386efcb Science Feedback Other 1633 0 1633
https://www.worldometers.info/ Agencia Ocote Authorities 1618 2115 10165
https://youtu.be/giyZvits7DU D├ętecteur de rumeurs Cure 1238 0 1238
https://twitter.com/RealCandaceO/status/1247287993095897088 PolitiFact Spread 520 0 520
https://www.infobae.com/america/mundo/2020/04/05/la-prueba-del-vinagre-militares-estadounidenses-aplican-un-sencillo-test-para-intentar-detectar-el-coronavirus-sin-fiebre/ Verificado Symptoms 399 116 515
https://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2020/4/6/Britain-pulls-out-of-5G-contract-with-Huawei.amp.html AfricaCheck Causes 330 0 330
https://www.lagazzettadelmezzogiorno.it/news/bari/1218599/bari-molecola-di-dio-contro-la-covid-19-l-eparina-e-efficace-forse-ci-siamo.html Open Cure 189 0 189
https://biohackinfo.com/news-bill-gates-id2020-vaccine-implant-covid-19-digital-certificates/ Factcheck.kz Conspiracy Theory 159 275 979

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://verificado.com.mx/es-falso-el-aumento-de-casos-de-neumonias-en-mexico/ Spread 335 117 452
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/trumps-claim-that-he-imposed-first-china-ban/ Authorities 262 0 262
https://www.buzzfeed.com/jp/kotahatachi/emergency-declaration-5 Spread 209 0 209
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/02/no-link-between-harvard-scientist-charles-lieber-and-coronavirus/ Conspiracy Theory 203 540 899
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/04/facebook-posts/president-obama-declared-h1n1-public-health-emerge/ Authorities 191 221 3222
https://factcheck.afp.com/senegalese-children-did-not-die-coronavirus-vaccine-which-does-not-yet-exist Conspiracy Theory 136 0 136
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/17/instagram-posts/celebrities-are-sharing-misleading-post-about-trum/ Authorities 128 235 779
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/apr/08/donald-trump/trump-said-obama-admin-left-him-bare-stockpile-wro/ Other 120 0 120
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/15/joe-biden/ad-watch-biden-video-twists-trumps-words-coronavir/ Authorities 71 136 415
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/false-claim-of-deadly-coronavirus-vaccine-trial-in-africa/ Other 71 0 71

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/).