Trump is world’s biggest driver of fake Covid news – Cornell University study
Donald Trump is the world’s single largest driver of misinformation about Covid-19.
Related article: Donald Trump tests positive for Covid-19
That is the conclusion drawn by researchers from Cornell University after they analysed 38 million English-language articles (published between 1 January and 26 May) about the pandemic.
About 38% of misinformed conversation about the pandemic referenced the US president.
Ineffective or dangerous “treatments” touted by Trump such as hydroxychloroquine accounted for more false information about Covid-19 than all other topics combined.
Of the 38 million articles, about 3% contained misinformation – meaning the media has conveyed misinformation in more than a million articles.
By choosing to uncritically report statements and remarks made by influential persons - without necessarily verifying or discounting the accuracy of those claims - they [the media] risk unwittingly facilitating the dissemination of misinformation.Authors of the "Coronavirus misinformation" study - Cornell University
Misinformation presented by public figures should be corrected by media within the same report, rather than after the fact.Authors of the "Coronavirus misinformation" study - Cornell University
Other actors also drive misinformation about Covid-19, researches found, but they pale in comparison to Trump.
While misinformation and conspiracy theories promulgated by ostensibly grassroots sources (such as antivaccination groups, 5G opponents and political extremists) do appear in our analysis… they contributed far less to the overall volume of misinformation than more powerful actors, in particular US President Donald Trump.Authors of the "Coronavirus misinformation" study - Cornell University
Cornell’s researchers make specific mention of South Africa – and former President Thabo Mbeki’s misinformed view that HIV does not cause AIDS.
In previous pandemics, such as the HIV/AIDS outbreak, misinformation and its effect on policy was estimated to have led to an additional 300 000 deaths in South Africa.Authors of the "Coronavirus misinformation" study - Cornell University
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.
For more detail, read "Coronavirus misinformation: Quantifying sources and themes in the Covid-19 'infodemic'" - Cornell University (Department of Global Development)
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