Social Media Misinformation about the WHO

Authors: Hubert Au, Jonathan Bright, Philip N. Howard

Given the evolving nature of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—and public understanding of the crises—we provide a weekly briefing about the spread of coronavirus information across multiple social media platforms. For the week leading up to 20-04-2020 we find:

• Content from state-backed media and junk health sources is distributed to hundreds of millions of social media accounts, and the BBC, Guardian, New York Times, and Washington Post have roughly equal distribution to junk health news per article.
• In total, articles produced by junk health news sources this week were engaged with over nine million times; though articles from state backed media sources inspired the most engagement on average.
• Thematically, this week’s junk health news and information focused on (1) accusing the WHO of incompetence, providing false information, and Chinese bias, and (2) supporting US President Trump’s withdrawal of funding from the WHO.

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