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Between Monday 13 April 2020 and Monday 20 April 2020, misinformation about Authorities has increasead whereas misinformation about Causes 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 13 April 2020 and Monday 20 April 2020.

169,130 Misinforming Tweets
New:+23,883 Trend:+8,338
45,611 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+7,314 Trend:+1,204
10,803 Fact-checks
98 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 13 April 2020 and Monday 20 April 2020, 23,883 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 +13,889 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 +25 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 Authorities with a change of +10,082 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic whereas the topic that saw the least relative change was Authorities with a change of -3,395 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Other with a total of 70,833 URL shares and the least popular topic is Symptoms with 2,038 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/realDonaldTrump/status/1250852583318736896 LeadStories Authorities 4953 0 4953
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/coronavirus-wuhan-lab-china-compete-us-sources FactCheck Georgia Other 4813 0 4813
https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1251185023459483653 Washington Post Fact-Checker Authorities 2680 0 2680
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rzu1AJRZJEI LeadStories Cure 2247 0 2247
https://www.worldometers.info/ Agencia Ocote Authorities 1517 1618 11682
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gMj6r9t-F4 franceinfo Spread 1196 0 1196
https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1271028/Angela-Merkel-Germany-China-coronavirus-blame-Wuhan-Xi-Jinping-Trump-latest The Quint Other 899 0 899
https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1249712404260421633 PolitiFact Authorities 878 0 878
https://youtu.be/giyZvits7DU D├ętecteur de rumeurs Cure 625 1238 1863
https://www.pourquoidocteur.fr/Articles/Question-d-actu/32184-EXCLUSIF-Pour-Pr-Montagnier-SARS-CoV-2-serait-virus-manipule-Chinois-l-ADN-de-VIH-podcast Les D├ęcodeurs Conspiracy Theory 541 0 541

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/13/how-false-hope-spread-about-hydroxychloroquine-its-consequences/ Authorities 1064 0 1064
https://twitter.com/parscale/status/1250559631665115137 Authorities 623 0 623
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/17/trumps-false-claim-that-who-said-coronavirus-was-not-communicable/ Authorities 265 0 265
https://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2020/04/17/le-coronavirus-fabrique-a-partir-du-virus-du-sida-la-these-tres-contestee-du-pr-luc-montagnier_6036972_4355770.html Conspiracy Theory 226 0 226
https://factuel.afp.com/non-ce-supermarche-ne-vend-pas-les-memes-pommes-de-terre-cinq-fois-plus-cher-que-debut-avril Other 149 0 149
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/conspiracy-theory-misinterprets-goals-of-gates-foundation/ Conspiracy Theory 135 0 135
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/04/facebook-posts/president-obama-declared-h1n1-public-health-emerge/ Authorities 126 191 3348
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/16/joe-biden/biden-falsely-says-trump-administration-rejected-w/ Authorities 122 29 1001
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/apr/15/facebook-posts/covid-order-doesnt-ban-gardening-or-sale-seeds-and/ Authorities 111 0 111
https://africacheck.org/fbcheck/huawei-doesnt-produce-covid-19-test-components-uk-not-pulling-out-of-5g-contract/ Causes 106 2 108

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/).