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  • COVID-19 Misinformation Newsletter 15 February 2022

    15 February 2022

    COVID-19 Newsletter

    Inauthentic international network behind trucker movement and “ephemeral” effects of fact-checking”

    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 and campaigns to manipulate public understanding of the health crisis. The newsletter is edited by Dr Aliaksandr Herasimenka. Our newsletter is a two-minute read.

    News Briefing

    Covid-19 misinformation has spread across Spotify, one of the most popular music and podcast platforms. As the revelation of misinformation prompted protests from prominent artists, Spotify said it would add a content advisory to any episode that discussed COVID-19 and direct listeners to a trusted information hub, Thomson Reuters Foundation reports.The anti-vaccine trucker movement is linked to an international network of social media accounts displaying inauthentic behaviourCrikey reports on First Draft’s research arguing that possibly inauthentic Facebook accounts registered outside of Australia appeared to be behind Convoy to Canberra protests in Australia by creating activist groups. A German conspiracy group helped create a series of anti-lockdown protests in Australia and abroad last year.YouTube is profiting from conspiracy videos about COVID-19 vaccines and similar controversial topics by serving up large corporations’ adverts. Many of the controversial videos were viewed million times. The Times estimates that some of their producers could make up to £500,000 a year from YouTube advertising.

    Academic Research

    The concept of a single “anti-vaxx” movement is misleading and does not represent the range of different reasons for why some people are reluctant to be vaccinated, the online information environment report by Royal Society suggests. The report also covered several other important areas of misinformation concern, such as filter bubbles and incentives for misinformation spreading.Different degrees of misinformation can have different impacts. According to a study published in Information, Communication & Society, more nuanced deviations from facticity may be more harmful as they are difficult to detect and correct while being more credible.“Fact-checks can successfully change the COVID-19 beliefs of the people who would benefit from them most but their effects are ephemeral.” These are the findings of a survey experiment study published in Nature Human Behaviour.


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