14 min read

Between Monday 10 May 2021 and Monday 17 May 2021, misinformation about Authorities 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 10 May 2021 and Monday 17 May 2021.

305,398 Misinforming Tweets
New:+379 Trend:-16
143,761 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+615 Trend:-352
12,237 Fact-checks
100 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 10 May 2021 and Monday 17 May 2021, 379 new URLs have been identified as potential misinforming content. Out of the 10 topics identified by Fact-checking organisations (Figure 1), most of the new shared URLs were about Conspiracy Theory with an increase of +371 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 Face Mask with a change of +0 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 Conspiracy Theory with a change of +53 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic whereas the topic that saw the least relative change was Conspiracy Theory with a change of -169 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Authorities with a total of 124,243 URL shares and the least popular topic is Face Mask with 1 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.worldometers.info/ Agencia Ocote Authorities 153 142 32497
https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2020/09/30/proof-that-the-pandemic-was-planned-with-purpose/ Newschecker Conspiracy Theory 92 142 1338
https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/lab-made-coronavirus-triggers-debate-34502 LeadStories Conspiracy Theory 55 11 2035
https://c19study.com D├ętecteur de rumeurs Cure 11 18 29171
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_AyuhbnPOI Faktograf Other 7 5 3795
https://vixra.org/pdf/2006.0044v1.pdf D├ętecteur de rumeurs Spread 6 2 175
https://youtu.be/Q-MkTdc4fCg Newschecker Authorities 4 9 28
https://www.bitchute.com/video/InH89amCpy7S/ FactCheck.org Vaccine 4 8 12
https://traugott-ickeroth.com/liveticker/ Correctiv Conspiracy Theory 4 3 459
https://www.mediterranee-infection.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Hydroxychloroquine_final_DOI_IJAA.pdf TjekDet.dk Cure 4 1 2091

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2021/feb/08/worldnetdaily/no-dr-anthony-fauci-did-not-fund-research-tied-cov/ Conspiracy Theory 53 0 64
https://chequeado.com/el-explicador/es-enganosa-la-publicacion-con-una-ilustracion-del-artista-italiano-walter-molino/ Other 14 1 26
https://www.buzzfeed.com/jp/kotahatachi/truth-paper Other 11 9 61
https://www.factcheck.org/2021/03/scicheck-viral-posts-misuse-vaers-data-to-make-false-claims-about-covid-19-vaccines/ Vaccine 10 18 126
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/09/cdc-did-not-admit-only-6-of-recorded-deaths-from-covid-19/ Authorities 9 3 2105
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/may/21/facebook-posts/disposable-homemade-masks-are-effective-stopping-a/ Spread 8 8 884
https://www.factcheck.org/2021/03/scicheck-texas-doctor-spreads-false-claims-about-covid-19-vaccines/ Vaccine 8 4 96
https://factuel.afp.com/virus-fabrique-vaccin-mortel-ces-affirmations-du-pr-montagnier-sont-inexactes Conspiracy Theory 8 0 46
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/dec/22/tweets/viral-tweet-cites-made-cdc-covid-19-survival-rates/ Other 7 10 128
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/apr/23/facebook-posts/anti-vaxxers-spread-conspiracy-about-bill-gates-an/ Conspiracy Theory 7 4 329

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 100 fact-checking organisation based in 712 countries and covering 48 languages.

The largest amount of fact-checked content comes from English (6,658 fact-checks) and the least is Finland (1 fact-checks). Most fact-checked content is in Spanish (3,706) followed by Portuguese (2,243) and French (1,200) (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/).