14 min read

Between Monday 20 September 2021 and Monday 27 September 2021, misinformation about Cure has increasead whereas misinformation about Vaccine 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 20 September 2021 and Monday 27 September 2021.

349,103 Misinforming Tweets
New:+318 Trend:-30,257
171,165 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+962 Trend:-286
14,542 Fact-checks
102 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 20 September 2021 and Monday 27 September 2021, 318 new URLs have been identified as potential misinforming content. Out of the 9 topics identified by Fact-checking organisations (Figure 1), most of the new shared URLs were about Vaccine with an increase of +720 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 Masks 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. 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 Other with a change of +12 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic whereas the topic that saw the least relative change was Other with a change of -30,460 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Authorities with a total of 128,981 URL shares and the least popular topic is Masks with 12 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 115 146 35012
https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ/status/1437532566945341441 FactCheck.org Vaccine 82 30235 30317
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du2wm5nhTXY PolitiFact Vaccine 39 96 5606
https://m.facebook.com/home.php Vistinomer Other 17 14 31
https://filiperafaeli.substack.com/p/hidroxicloroquina-para-profilaxia AgĂȘncia Lupa Cure 13 19 115
https://c19study.com DĂ©tecteur de rumeurs Cure 11 0 29270
https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2020/09/30/proof-that-the-pandemic-was-planned-with-purpose/ Newschecker Conspiracy Theory 4 8 1537
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dswaElkiRO8 FactCheck.org Other 4 4 264
https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/world-news/corruption/belarusian-president-claims-imf-world-bank-offered-him-a-bribe-to-impose-covid-restrictions/ TEMPO Conspiracy Theory 3 0 783
https://www.facebook.com/TuckerCarlsonTonight/videos/606202543869015/ FactCheck.org Vaccine 2 18 20

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://www.factcheck.org/2021/04/scicheck-idaho-doctor-makes-baseless-claims-about-safety-of-covid-19-vaccines/ Vaccine 100 105 512
https://www.factcheck.org/2021/09/covid-19-the-unvaccinated-pose-a-risk-to-the-vaccinated/ Vaccine 67 0 67
https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/no-data-available-to-suggest-a-link-between-indias-reduction-of-covid-19-cases-and-the-use-of-ivermectin-jim-hoft-gateway-pundit/ Cure 48 50 545
https://factcheck.afp.com/http%253A%252F%252Fdoc.afp.com%252F9M48JR-1 Cure 37 32 94
https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/the-development-of-mrna-vaccines-was-a-collaborative-effort-robert-malone-contributed-to-their-development-but-he-is-not-their-inventor/ Vaccine 34 53 196
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2021/jul/23/tiktok-posts/biden-harris-doubted-trump-covid-19-vaccines-not-v/ Vaccine 34 28 332
https://politica.estadao.com.br/blogs/estadao-verifica/sem-citar-fontes-confiaveis-posts-espalham-que-defensor-da-cloroquina-foi-indicado-ao-nobel-da-paz/ Other 30 0 62
https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/janci-chunn-lindsays-claims-that-covid-19-vaccines-are-unsafe-are-inaccurate-and-unsupported-by-scientific-evidence/ Vaccine 29 29 110
https://www.factcheck.org/2021/03/scicheck-viral-posts-misuse-vaers-data-to-make-false-claims-about-covid-19-vaccines/ Vaccine 22 26 413
https://www.factcheck.org/2021/07/scicheck-flawed-paper-on-covid-19-vaccines-deaths-spreads-widely-before-retraction/ Vaccine 13 9 104

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 102 fact-checking organisation based in 877 countries and covering 48 languages.

The largest amount of fact-checked content comes from English (7,710 fact-checks) and the least is Finland (1 fact-checks). Most fact-checked content is in Spanish (4,127) followed by Portuguese (2,495) and Ukrainian (1,764) (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.