The Epic Battle Against Coronavirus Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories

May 27, 2020

(Nature) – For researchers who track how information spreads, COVID-19 is an experimental subject like no other. “This is an opportunity to see how the whole world pays attention to a topic,” says Renée diResta at the Stanford Internet Observatory in California. She and many others have been scrambling to track and analyse the disparate falsehoods floating around — both ‘misinformation’, which is wrong but not deliberately misleading, and ‘disinformation’, which refers to organized falsehoods that are intended to deceive. In a global health crisis, inaccurate information doesn’t only mislead, but could be a matter of life and death if people start taking unproven drugs, ignoring public-health advice, or refusing a coronavirus vaccine if one becomes available.