Between Monday 08 February 2021 and Monday 15 February 2021, misinformation about Causes 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 08 February 2021 and Monday 15 February 2021.

238,910 Misinforming Tweets
New:+107 Trend:-257
126,173 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+1,129 Trend:-284
16,386 Fact-checks
101 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 08 February 2021 and Monday 15 February 2021, 107 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 +330 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 +6 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 +1 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 -203 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Other with a total of 96,368 URL shares and the least popular topic is Symptoms with 2,740 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/DoctorEricNepute/videos/172252551364990/ FactCheck.org Spread 14 0 14
https://laufpass.com/corona/gefaelschte-totenscheine-tausende-aerzte-mit-einem-bein-im-knast/ Correctiv Conspiracy Theory 10 17 192
https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/lab-made-coronavirus-triggers-debate-34502 LeadStories Conspiracy Theory 9 23 1925
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6936a5.htm D├ętecteur de rumeurs Other 9 17 1566
https://traugott-ickeroth.com/liveticker/ Correctiv Conspiracy Theory 8 11 386
https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/world-news/corruption/belarusian-president-claims-imf-world-bank-offered-him-a-bribe-to-impose-covid-restrictions/ TEMPO Conspiracy Theory 7 3 680
https://www.unzensuriert.at/content/122859-gute-nachrichten-aus-strassburg-impfzwang-ist-ab-sofort-rechtswidrig/ Correctiv Vaccine 6 29 35
https://www.cqv.qc.ca/la_cdc_a_gonfle_les_chiffres_de_mortalite_du_covid_19_par_1600_pourcent AFP Conspiracy Theory 6 0 6
https://biohackinfo.com/news-bill-gates-id2020-vaccine-implant-covid-19-digital-certificates/ Factcheck.kz Conspiracy Theory 4 5 1402
https://www.c-span.org/video/?507234-1/women-america-rally PolitiFact Conspiracy Theory 4 1 13

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://maldita.es/malditobulo/20210212/illa-positivo-covid-coronavirus-quironsalud-alvise-pcr-psc/ Authorities 65 0 65
https://maldita.es/malditobulo/20210210/no-hospital-clinico-puerta-hierro-fin-semana-urgencias-trescientos-ninos-covid-19-madrid/ Spread 40 0 40
https://www.animalpolitico.com/elsabueso/falso-lista-onu-mexico-no-compro-vacunas/ Vaccine 34 34 68
https://factcheck.afp.com/us-rapper-pitbull-falsely-claims-covid-19-pandemic-was-planned Conspiracy Theory 29 0 29
https://piaui.folha.uol.com.br/lupa/2021/02/10/verificamos-mara-moteis-presos/ Authorities 27 0 27
https://www.newtral.es/salvador-illa-positivo-coronavirus-bulo/20210212/ Authorities 24 0 24
https://www.thejournal.ie/freedom-of-information-request-covid-19-hse-does-not-exist-5312279-Dec2020/ Conspiracy Theory 18 10 175
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/27/donald-trump/fact-checking-whether-biden-called-trump-xenophobi/ Authorities 17 1 682
https://www.factcheck.org/2021/02/scicheck-video-makes-bogus-claims-about-war-crimes-and-covid-19-vaccine-safety/ Vaccine 14 0 14
https://efectococuyo.com/cocuyo-chequea/vacunas-contra-covid-temblores-cuerpo/ Vaccine 12 36 48

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.