13 min read

Between Monday 27 April 2020 and Monday 04 May 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 27 April 2020 and Monday 04 May 2020.

207,139 Misinforming Tweets
New:+10,723 Trend:-16,563
54,290 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+4,191 Trend:-297
10,803 Fact-checks
98 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 27 April 2020 and Monday 04 May 2020, 10,723 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 Causes with an increase of +5,955 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 +51 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 Symptoms with a change of -1 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic whereas the topic that saw the least relative change was Symptoms with a change of -8,132 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Other with a total of 77,591 URL shares and the least popular topic is Symptoms with 2,141 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://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfLVxx_lBLU Colombiacheck Causes 5747 13620 19367
https://twitter.com/RudyGiuliani/status/1254513987196248065 PolitiFact Authorities 1810 1310 3120
https://www.worldometers.info/ Agencia Ocote Authorities 1031 1052 13765
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBLXdKB-PjI PolitiFact Other 283 0 283
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQkgXabo-A0 Maldita.es Conspiracy Theory 167 788 1173
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rSg9e1AXrA Newtral.es Other 166 71 457
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x506UtnCOE Estadão Verifica Spread 131 47 178
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-vice-president-pence-members-coronavirus-task-force-press-briefing-31/ AFP Cure 120 433 553
https://n5ti.com/stories/1275/ LeadStories Cure 96 616 712
https://nypost.com/2020/03/24/new-york-hospitals-treating-coronavirus-patients-with-vitamin-c/ Open Cure 80 116 1127

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/30/trumps-triumphant-rhetoric-coronavirus-testing/ Other 190 0 190
https://piaui.folha.uol.com.br/lupa/2020/04/29/verificamos-foto-caixao-vazio-enterros-covid-19-amazonas/ Conspiracy Theory 138 0 138
https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/04/fact-check-bill-and-melinda-gates-foundation-hq-does-not-read-center-for-global-human-population-reduction.html Other 107 0 107
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/social-media-posts-make-baseless-claim-on-covid-19-death-toll/ Authorities 102 51 273
https://factcheck.afp.com/nobel-laureate-tasuku-honjo-refutes-false-quote-attributed-him-about-novel-coronavirus Other 81 0 81
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/apr/30/donald-trump/trumps-boasts-testing-spring-cherry-picking-data/ Authorities 71 0 71
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/apr/30/blog-posting/obama-administration-did-not-provide-38-million-wu/ Conspiracy Theory 65 0 65
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/apr/28/facebook-posts/sweden-mostly-open-has-higher-covid-19-death-rate-/ Spread 63 0 63
https://africacheck.org/fbcheck/no-evidence-that-madagascars-artemisia-based-tonic-cures-covid-19/ Cure 59 0 59
https://www.liberation.fr/checknews/2020/04/30/non-une-enseignante-de-42-ans-n-est-pas-decedee-du-covid-apres-avoir-garde-des-enfants-de-soignants_1786666 Spread 54 0 54

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/).