Between Monday 17 August 2020 and Monday 24 August 2020, misinformation about Symptoms 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 17 August 2020 and Monday 24 August 2020.

217,921 Misinforming Tweets
New:+470 Trend:-610
90,568 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+1,276 Trend:-403
16,386 Fact-checks
101 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 17 August 2020 and Monday 24 August 2020, 470 new URLs have been identified as potential misinforming content. Out of the 8 topics identified by Fact-checking organisations (Figure 1), most of the new shared URLs were about Authorities with an increase of +476 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 +19 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. Vaccines: Information relating to vaccines (e.g., side effects, effectiveness).
  8. Masks: Information concerning the usage of masks.
  9. 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 Causes with a change of -9 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic whereas the topic that saw the least relative change was Causes with a change of -268 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Other with a total of 86,289 URL shares and the least popular topic is Vaccine with 1,308 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.torontotoday.net/2020/08/15/vladimir-putins-daughter-dies-after-second-dose-of-covid-vaccine VERA Files Vaccine 223 290 513
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_AyuhbnPOI Faktograf Conspiracy Theory 30 34 3557
http://www.francesoir.fr/le-confinement-tout-ce-que-lon-ne-vous-pas-dit-aberration-humaine-sanitaire-economique Les D├ęcodeurs Authorities 18 17 277
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCZu8a5r5y4 MediaWise Other 15 3 34
https://www.mediterranee-infection.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Hydroxychloroquine_final_DOI_IJAA.pdf TjekDet.dk Cure 13 9 2032
https://pubmedinfo.org/2020/08/04/testy-pcr-na-covid-19-z-naukowego-punktu-widzenia-sa-pozbawione-sensu/ Demagog Symptoms 11 1 14
https://twitter.com/business/status/1295163512671670272?s=21 BOOM FactCheck Other 11 0 11
https://tele1.com.tr/turkiye-rusyanin-koronavirus-asisi-icin-kobay-oluyor-207218/ Teyit Authorities 9 0 9
https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1241367239900778501 Salud con lupa Cure 8 8 11265
https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/lab-made-coronavirus-triggers-debate-34502 LeadStories Conspiracy Theory 8 6 1760

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/21/trumps-bizarre-effort-tag-obamas-swine-flu-response-disaster/ Authorities 31 1 492
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/jun/13/andrew-cuomo/new-yorks-nursing-home-policy-was-not-line-cdc/ Authorities 27 10 269
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/06/fake-aoc-tweet-politicizes-covid-19-business-restrictions/ Authorities 23 9 403
https://www.aosfatos.org/noticias/nao-e-verdade-que-estudo-aponte-que-maioria-das-pessoas-seja-imune-covid-19/ Spread 22 0 22
https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/swedens-covid-19-mortality-is-higher-than-in-most-european-countries-no-evidence-whether-or-how-the-absence-of-lockdown-impacted-this-outcome/ Other 21 2 23
https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/flawed-study-incorrectly-claims-that-countries-adopting-hydroxychloroquine-as-a-treatment-for-covid-19-experienced-reduced-mortality-rates/ Cure 21 0 21
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/04/facebook-posts/president-obama-declared-h1n1-public-health-emerge/ Authorities 17 8 3702
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/27/donald-trump/fact-checking-whether-biden-called-trump-xenophobi/ Authorities 16 9 365
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/08/posts-take-old-photos-of-biden-harris-out-of-context/ Authorities 16 0 16
https://piaui.folha.uol.com.br/lupa/2020/07/01/verificamos-stf-bolsonaro-covid/ Authorities 15 74 197

Table 2: Top fact-checked content.

Fact-checking

The data used for creating the Twitter dataset is obtained from the Poynter Coronavirus Fact Alliance. The alliance consists of 101 fact-checking organisation based in 1000 countries and covering 46 languages.

The largest amount of fact-checked content comes from English (8,706 fact-checks) and the least is Finland (1 fact-checks). Most fact-checked content is in Spanish (4,577) followed by Portuguese (2,801) and Ukrainian (2,073) (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.