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The Epic Battle Against Coronavirus Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories

By Nature

June 8, 2020

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Scientists worldwide are scrambling to track and counter the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic by understanding their origins and growth patterns.

Amil Khan with U.K.-based communications agency Valent Projects said rumormongers use social-media platforms designed to maximize user engagement, rather than to highlight evidence-based information.

Efforts to analyze social-media messages include a University of Southern California-released dataset of more than 120 million tweets on the coronavirus, while Manlio De Domenico at Italy's Bruno Kessler Institute uses automated software to review 7 million tweets daily on Covid-19.

De Domenico and colleagues gauge the tweets' emotional content and the region they were sent from where possible, then calculate their reliability by examining the sources to which a message links.

Also fighting misinformation are initiatives like the International Fact-checking Network, a global effort to compile a database of fact-checks of Covid-19 claims.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2020 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA

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