COVID-19 Misinformation Newsletter 18 May 2021
18 May 2021
The COVID-19 Misinformation Newsletter is prepared by the staff of the Programme on Democracy and Technology (DemTech) at Oxford University. We summarise the latest independent research and high-quality news reporting on the production and consumption of computational propaganda, fake news, and campaigns to manipulate public understanding of the health crisis.
1. French social media influencers are offered thousands of euros by an unknown marketing agency to communicate falsehoods about vaccines. The individuals, some with millions of followers on YouTube, declined the offer.
2. Facebook develops policy to throttle the visibility of accounts that repeatedly share misinformation. The platform also lifts a ban on calling the COVID-19 virus “man-made” and discussing claims that the virus originated from a laboratory.
3. The state of Florida has passed legislation to prohibit companies from deplatforming poiticians. The new law states that platforms can at most suspend accounts for 14 days and that platforms could be fined for their current deplatforming policies.
4. A review article by Khubchandani and Macias systematically goes through previous studies about vaccine hesitancy in racial and ethnic minorities. It finds that vaccine hesitancy is significantly higher among African-Americans, and this is determined by both demographic variables as well as medical mistrust and history of racial discrimination medical mistrust and history of racial discrimination.
5. Researchers from Universidade Federal de Pernambuco examine scientific publications about the pandemic that have been retracted because of errors, to see if other scientists repeat their content. They find that while some retracted publications receive citations, these are mostly negative in nature.
6. A study in Integrative Medicine Research looks at the factors that undermine efforts to communicate scientific results related to Covid-19. They mention the exponential increase in publications, the role of traditional media and the politicization of the virus.
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