Co-Spread of Misinformation and Fact-Checking Content during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Burel, Gregoire; Farrell, Tracie; Mensio, Martino; Khare, Prashant; Alani, Harith

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the consequences of misinformation are a matter of life and death. Correcting misconceptions and false beliefs are important for injecting reliable information about the outbreak. Fact-checking organisations produce content with the aim of reducing misinformation spread, but our knowledge of its impact on misinformation is limited. In this paper, we explore the relation between misinformation and fact-checking spread during the Covid-19 pandemic. We specifically follow misinformation and fact-checks emerging from December 2019 to early May 2020. Through a combination of spread variance analysis, impulse response modelling and causal analysis, we show similarities in how misinformation and fact-checking information spread and that fact-checking information has a positive impact in reducing misinformation. However, we observe that its efficacy can be reduced, due to the general amount of online misinformation and the short-term spread of fact-checking information compared to misinformation.