Virus Misinformation Increases as Delta Cases Increase


In the past few weeks, the vast majority of the most highly engaged social media posts containing coronavirus-related misinformation have come from people who have come to the fore in the past year by questioning vaccines.

In July, right-wing commentator Candace Owens jumped into the misrepresentation of Britain’s scientific adviser. “This is shocking!” Wrote. “According to the government’s chief scientific adviser, 60% of people hospitalized with #COVID19 in the UK have received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.”

After scientific advisor Patrick Vallance corrected himself, Ms. Owens added the correct information to the bottom of her Facebook post. But a New York Times analysis found that in the three hours before its update, the post had been liked or shared more than 62,000 times—two-thirds of its total interactions. In total, the rumor garnered 142,000 likes and shares on Facebook, most of them coming from Ms. Owens’ post. Report by Virality ProjectA consortium of misinformation researchers from organizations like Stanford Internet Observatory and Graphika.

When reached for comment, Ms Owens said in an email: “Unfortunately, I am not interested in The New York Times. Those who follow me don’t take your hits seriously.”

Also in July, attorney Thomas Renz appeared in a video claiming 45,000 people had died from coronavirus vaccines. The claim has since refuted, it stands unverified information From the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a government database. The baseless claim was included in a lawsuit filed by Mr Renz in coordination with the company on behalf of an unidentified “whistleblower”. America’s Leading Doctors — a right-wing group that has spread misinformation about the pandemic in the past.

Mr. Renz’s video has been viewed more than 19,000 times on Bitchute. According to Virality Project, the false claim was repeated by top Spanish Telegram channels, Facebook groups and conspiracy website Infowars, garnering more than 120,000 views across platforms.

Mr. Renz said in an email that his practice had “done due diligence” to believe the allegations in his case were true. “We don’t actually believe the Biden administration is responsible for this, but rather that President Biden was misled by the same group of conflicting bureaucrats as President Trump before him,” Renz said.


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