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  • COVID-19 Misinformation Newsletter 9 November 2021

    9 November 2021

    COVID-19 Newsletter

    Little evidence of large-scale disruption by the Facebook policy of deplatforming conspiracy theorists


    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

    The internal systems of Facebook are unable to “identify, demote, and/or remove anti-vaccine comments often enough, specifically in non-English speaking countries. A former Facebook employee released internal documents that revealed this information, CNN reports.Internal Facebook documents reveal that users with multiple accounts are “a major source of political vitriol and violent content.” Yet, according to Politico, company executives have “done little” to address this problem. In DRC, vulnerable people face further stigmatisation because of COVID-19 misinformation. One of the key reasons for this is the lack of reliable sources of information, such as the government, reports Médecins Sans Frontières.

    Academic Research

    Removing those users who spread COVID-19 disinformation on Facebook can constrain the transmission of disinformation, but it does not eradicate it. Moreover, the disruptive impact caused to these users does not last long. These are the findings of a study published in Information, Communication & Society.Misinformation and disinformation have caused between $50 and $300 million worth of harm in the United States every day since May 2021. This is the conclusion of the study published by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The study also suggests that the total voluntary COVID-19 non-vaccination has caused at least $1 billion of harm each day in the United States since vaccines became widely available, as between 2 million and 12 million people in the US are unvaccinated because of misinformation or disinformation.Conspiracy beliefs prospectively predict health behaviour and well-being during a pandemic. Conspiracy beliefs predict how well people have coped with the pandemic over a period of eight months, as reflected in their health behaviour, and their economic and social well-being, a study published in Phycological Medicine concludes.

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