News on How Misinformation Spreads

The Freedom’s Phoenix, a local news site in Phoenix, and The Atlanta Business Journal, a news site in Atlanta, both published the same article about coronavirus vaccines in March. The author was Joseph Mercola, who researchers and regulators have said is a top spreader of misleading Covid-19 information. In the article, Dr. Mercola inaccurately likened […]

The most visible vaccine-skeptical public figures, the likes of Tucker Carlson or Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), understand this. They don’t need to spread demonstrable falsehoods. They can simply focus night after night on outlier cases of severe side effects. Or they can selectively present results of scientific studies or government communications in ways that seem […]

Rumours and falsehoods on social media spread faster than the truth. A recent study conducted in the United States found evidence that polarising political content (such as left vs right) is particularly likely to go viral. And there can be real world consequences of misinformation. Another study conducted in Germany has demonstrated that anti-refugee sentiment […]

This spring, the Center for Countering Digital Hate published “The Disinformation Dozen” — a report on the 12 influencers it claimed were responsible for 65 percent of anti-vaccine falsehoods disseminated on Facebook and other social media platforms. Top of the list is Florida osteopath Joseph Mercola, the subject of a recent profile in The Times […]

Americans who believe in the conspiracy theories collectively packaged as “QAnon” have grown quiet in recent months. They gained international notoriety after a large group of believers were among those who stormed the US Capitol building during a violent riot on January 6th. But the precise cause of the movement’s appeal has yet to be […]

In May, several French and German social media influencers received a strange proposal. A London-based public relations agency wanted to pay them to promote messages on behalf of a client. A polished three-page document detailed what to say and on which platforms to say it. But it asked the influencers to push not beauty products […]

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Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines can appear almost anywhere: From an uncle’s social media post to a well-trusted news commentator. But where does it come from and why do some myths spread further than others? With the help of the Internet research firm Graphika, NPR analyzed the rise of one persistent set of lies about COVID-19 […]

It’s despair-making that misinformation about Covid and other topics takes root so easily and demands constant monitoring and refutation. Misinformation—false and fake stories—has always been with us, but it didn’t really begin to flood our political debates until the 2016 presidential campaign, as Donald Trump used it on social media and TV appearances as his […]

Here are some numbers — disturbing numbers — from Johns Hopkins University. COVID-19 vaccination rates are dropping across the nation. At the same time, new cases are rising in 46 states — as much as 10% week over week. In other words, fewer people are getting vaccinated and more people are getting COVID-19. It doesn’t […]

Almost 50% of respondents to a recent Indiana University survey believe it is definitely or likely true that the Centers for Disease Control is hiding negative effects from COVID-19 vaccines, and close to 25% believe the vaccines cause infertility in women. These beliefs are tied strongly to respondents’ political leanings, with more Republicans than Democrats […]

Join the Stanford Internet Observatory for a conversation with US Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, where he will discuss slowing the spread of health misinformation, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Health misinformation is a major threat to public health because it can cause confusion, sow mistrust, harm people’s health, and undermine public health efforts. Although […]

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