Between Monday 04 January 2021 and Monday 11 January 2021, misinformation about Vaccine 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 04 January 2021 and Monday 11 January 2021.

236,753 Misinforming Tweets
New:+300 Trend:-3,088
117,623 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+1,349 Trend:-506
16,386 Fact-checks
101 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 04 January 2021 and Monday 11 January 2021, 300 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 Conspiracy Theory with an increase of +594 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 Causes with a change of +15 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 Cure with a change of +55 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 -3,329 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Other with a total of 94,522 URL shares and the least popular topic is Vaccine with 2,524 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.facebook.com/ifpdolorescahill/videos/1425129044342325/ TheJournal.ie Conspiracy Theory 75 48 123
https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/world-news/corruption/belarusian-president-claims-imf-world-bank-offered-him-a-bribe-to-impose-covid-restrictions/ TEMPO Conspiracy Theory 26 34 645
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6936a5.htm D├ętecteur de rumeurs Other 20 43 1508
https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/1343221417287016448 PolitiFact Authorities 19 3089 9414
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VJMRDz1494 Ellinika Hoaxes Vaccine 18 0 18
https://archive.is/wWk8N AFP Conspiracy Theory 17 0 25
https://www.pronews.gr/kosmos/eyropaiki-enosi/952075_den-ftanoyn-ta-emvolia-tis-pfizer-i-ee-edose-ok-gia-mia-parapano-dosi Ellinika Hoaxes Vaccine 12 0 12
https://twitter.com/mehmetmac1/status/1347957337655566336 Teyit Conspiracy Theory 10 0 10
https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/lab-made-coronavirus-triggers-debate-34502 LeadStories Conspiracy Theory 7 9 1873
https://www.lastampa.it/esteri/2020/05/04/news/test-sul-sangue-effettuati-in-giappone-rivela-la-mortalita-da-coronavirus-e-di-gran-lunga-inferiore-all-influenza-1.38801430 Open Other 6 29 392

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://www.thejournal.ie/debunked-dolores-cahill-covid-19-video-masks-lockdown-vaccines-5315519-Jan2021/ Conspiracy Theory 42 0 42
https://factuel.afp.com/le-prix-nobel-tasuku-honjo-dement-avoir-declare-que-le-nouveau-coronavirus-netait-pas-naturel Conspiracy Theory 32 18 162
https://chequeado.com/el-explicador/es-falso-que-suspendieron-la-vacunacion-en-toda-la-ciudad-de-rosario-por-efectos-adversos-de-la-vacuna-sputnik-v/ Cure 31 2 33
https://factuel.afp.com/non-cette-infirmiere-americaine-nest-pas-decedee-apres-avoir-recu-le-vaccin-anti-covid Conspiracy Theory 29 36 81
https://factuel.afp.com/une-federation-fantome-et-des-logos-vides-attention-cette-affiche Vaccine 29 0 29
https://www.thejournal.ie/freedom-of-information-request-covid-19-hse-does-not-exist-5312279-Dec2020/ Conspiracy Theory 28 57 85
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/dec/11/facebook-posts/chart-comparing-2020-us-death-toll-previous-years-/ Spread 26 98 596
https://infact.press/2020/08/post-7398/ Other 22 8 223
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/dec/28/marco-rubio/marco-rubio-says-anthony-fauci-lied-about-masks-fa/ Authorities 17 69 86
https://chequeado.com/el-explicador/no-cfk-no-se-aplico-la-vacuna-contra-el-covid-19-sin-barbijo-y-sin-guantes/ Cure 17 0 17

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.