• Truth decayCOVID-19 Misinformation Attributed to Johns Hopkins Circulates Widely Online

    Misinformation about COVID-19 purporting to come from Johns Hopkins is circulating widely online, including one particular message described as an “excellent summary” that has been shared extensively worldwide in the past few weeks. The message has no identifiable connection to Johns Hopkins. “Rumors and misinformation like this can easily circulate in communities during a crisis. The rumors that we have seen in greater volumes are those citing a Johns Hopkins immunologist and infectious disease expert. We do not know the origin of these rumors and they lack credibility,” Johns Hopkins said.

  • Truth decay“CoronaCheck” Website Combats Spread of Misinformation

    Researchers have developed an automated system that uses machine learning, data analysis, and human feedback to automatically verify statistical claims about the new coronavirus. “CoronaCheck,” based on ongoing research from Cornell University’s Immanuel Trummer, launched internationally in March and has already been used more than 9,600 times. The database – now available in English, French, and Italian – checks claims on COVID-19’s spread based on reliable sources such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • The Russia connectionRussia Using COVID-19 Disinformation, Conspiracy Theories to “Subvert the West”: Repot

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration are using the coronavirus crisis to spread conspiracy theories in a bid to “subvert the West” and create a new world order, a new report has charges. The report says that Russia was propagating disinformation and conspiracy theories via social media accounts, fake news outlets, state-controlled media, pseudo-scientists and Russians living in the West.

  • Social media & epidemicsSocial Media Can Help Track the Spread of Disease

    Disease surveillance means monitoring the spread of disease through populations in order to establish patterns and minimize harm caused by outbreaks. A recent study explored how to effectively and ethically include social media and broader Internet tracking as part of public health surveillance efforts.

  • Social media & epidemicsTracking the Spread of Disease on Social Media

    For many years, researchers have turned to the public logs of search engine terms to help them track the spread of disease. They can analyze the keywords and phrases that people use and when they become interested in a disease or have symptoms.

  • Truth decaySocial Media Makes It Difficult to Identify Real News

    There is a price to pay when you get your news and political information from the same place you find funny memes and cat pictures, new research suggests. The study found that people viewing a blend of news and entertainment on a social media site tended to pay less attention to the source of content they consumed – meaning they could easily mistake satire or fiction for real news.

  • Truth decayUncertainty about Facts Can Be Reported Without Damaging Public Trust in News: Study

    The numbers that drive headlines – those on Covid-19 infections, for example – contain significant levels of uncertainty: assumptions, limitations, extrapolations, and so on. Experts and journalists have long assumed that revealing the ‘noise’ inherent in data confuses audiences and undermines trust. A series of experiments – including one on the BBC News website – finds the use of numerical ranges in news reports helps us grasp the uncertainty of stats while maintaining trust in data and its sources.

  • DisinformationCombating the Coronavirus Infodemic: Is Social Media Doing Enough?

    By Lindsay Gorman and Nathan Kohlenberg

    The global coronavirus pandemic has also spawned an epidemic of online disinformation, ranging from false home remedies to state-sponsored influence campaigns. To stem the growing “infodemic,” social media platforms have moved quickly to quash disinformation on their platforms. Their response represents the strongest attempts to police disinformation to date, though actual results have been mixed.

  • Truth decayJournalism Is an “Attack Surface” for Those Spreading Misinformation

    For all the benefits in the expansion of the media landscape, we’re still struggling with the spread of misinformation—and the damage is especially worrisome when it comes to information about science and health. “Believing things that aren’t true when it comes to health can be not just bad for us, but dangerous,” said one expert.

  • Truth decayFaster Way to Replace Bad Data with Accurate Information

    Research have demonstrated a new model of how competing pieces of information spread in online social networks and the Internet of Things (IoT). The findings could be used to disseminate accurate information more quickly, displacing false information about anything from computer security to public health.

  • ArgumentWhy Does Russia Use Disinformation?

    There is much discussion about Russian disinformation in today’s popular discourse, but the conversation about why Russia uses disinformation usually does not get beyond general notions of Moscow wanting to “divide us” or “muddy the waters.” Kasey Stricklin writes that this is dangerous and incorrect thinking, because, in fact, “Russia has a number of strategic goals that it hopes to advance through its use of disinformation, including restoring Russia to great power status, preserving its sphere of influence, protecting the Putin regime and enhancing its military effectiveness.

  • The Russia connectionIn Politics and Pandemics, Russian Trolls Use Fear, Anger to Drive Clicks

    Facebook users flipping through their feeds in the fall of 2016 faced a minefield of Russian-produced targeted advertisements pitting blacks against police, southern whites against immigrants, and gun owners against Obama supporters. The cheaply made ads were full of threatening, vulgar language, but according to a sweeping new analysis, they were remarkably effective, eliciting clickthrough rates as much as nine times higher than what is typical in digital advertising. The Kremlin-sponsored troll farms are still at it, already engaged in disinformation campaigns around COVID-19.

  • The Russia connectionExperts: Russia Using Virus Crisis to Sow Discord in West

    Experts say that Kremlin’s disinformation specialists are behind a disinformation campaign in the Western media on coronavirus, intended to fuel panic and discord among allies, deepen the crisis, exacerbate its consequences, and hamper the ability of Western democracies to respond to it effectively. The European Union has accused Moscow of pushing fake news online in English, Spanish, Italian, German and French, using “contradictory, confusing and malicious reports” to make it harder for the bloc leaders to communicate its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Truth decayTruth Decay in the Coronavirus Moment: Q&A with Jennifer Kavanagh

    The COVID-19 crisis “is the type of environment in which false and misleading information thrives and spreads quickly. People are vulnerable. People are afraid. People don’t know what to believe. Trust in basically every organization or position that we would turn to is pretty low. There’s higher trust in the medical community than in, say, media or government, but it’s still not all that high. The combination of low trust and high volume of information coming from people who are not experts—but purport to be experts—creates the perfect storm for the average person,” says Jennifer Kavanagh, author of Truth Decay.

  • Truth decayThe Catch to Putting Warning Labels on Fake News

    By Peter Dizikes

    After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook began putting warning tags on news stories fact-checkers judged to be false. But there’s a catch: Tagging some stories as false makes readers more willing to believe other stories and share them with friends, even if those additional, untagged stories also turn out to be false.