Donald Trump is the biggest driver of Covid-19 misinformation, study says

WION Web Team
New York, New York, United States of America Published: Oct 02, 2020, 11.17 AM(IST)

US President Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio Photograph:( AFP )

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According to a new study from Cornell University, Trump is the world’s biggest spreader of coronavirus misinformation.

COVID-19 might have made its way to the world via China and took the form of a pandemic, but the infodemic has surely been spreading in the United States, and perhaps, the world, courtesy President Donald Trump.

According to a new study from Cornell University, Trump is the world’s biggest spreader of coronavirus misinformation.

A team from the Cornell Alliance for Science evaluated 38 million articles published by English-language, traditional media worldwide between Jan 1 and May 26 of this year.

It was calculated that nearly 38 per cent of the “misinformation conversation” began with Trump doing things such as promoting unproven “miracle cures” for Covid-19 or claiming with zero evidence that the pandemic was a “Democratic Party hoax” aimed at derailing his presidency.

They tracked how the stories were shared on social media, finding that the posts elicited 36 million engagements, three-quarters of them on Facebook. The database they used aggregates coverage from countries such as the United States, Britain, India, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other African and Asian nations.

TRUMP'S MANY CLAIMS

The research identified 522,472 news articles that reproduced or amplified misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic, or what the World Health Organisation has called the "infodemic".

These were categorised into 11 main sub-topics, ranging from conspiracy theories to attacks on top scientist Anthony Fauci to the idea that the virus is a bioweapon unleashed by China.

The most popular topic by far was what the study authors termed "miracle cures", which appeared in 295,351 articles - more than the other 10 topics combined.

The authors found that comments by President Trump drove major spikes in the "miracle cures" topic, led by his April 24 press briefing where he mused on the possibility of using disinfectants inside the body to cure the coronavirus.

Similar spikes were seen when he promoted unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine.

(with inputs)

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