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NewsGuard Releases New Report to Government Online Harms Watchdogs and the Who Detailing New COVID-19 Myths Being Spread

NewsGuard coverage highlights TikTok videos purporting to show COVID shot turning people into zombies; Facebook groups touting CDC-WHO ‘corruption’ and Bill Gates conspiracies

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NewsGuard has found that COVID-19 myths continue to be spread and promoted on leading global digital platforms, despite their claims that they have addressed the problem. At the request of officials from countries around the world and the World Health Organization, NewsGuard issues regular reports to governments and the WHO.

The WHO has termed rampant misinformation and hoaxes on the social media platforms an “infodemic,” resulting in many people being exposed to false content relating to the virus and its treatments, including false claims about the dangers of the vaccine. Hesitancy to take the vaccine is endangering the path to herd immunity in many countries.

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NewsGuard has been summarizing the new myths on the platforms in a series of reports also requested by regulators of the digital platforms in the UK, US, Germany, France and Italy, as well as legislators on Capitol Hill.

Several platforms, for example, claimed that Inter Milan and Danish national team soccer star Christian Eriksen received a COVID-19 vaccine before an on-field collapse during a game against Finland on June 12, when in fact he was not vaccinated and did not have COVID-19.

Other examples:

  • Facebook groups claiming unsubstantiated “corruption” between the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control in the US.
  • TikTok videos with more than 30 million views purporting that the COVID shot turns people into zombies.
  • Instagram accounts such as @1986theact, the popular account of an antivax misinformation film by Andrew Wakefield, promoting the baseless theory that vaccines cause autism.

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The NewsGuard Facebook report also identifies seven Facebook pages and private Facebook groups with a total of 325,700 members or followers that actively promote misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. For example, the “Informed Consent Action Network” with 50,100 followers, is associated with icandecide.org, an anti-vaccine nonprofit that NewsGuard has rated red with a trust rating of 12.5/100.

NewsGuard’s reports for the WHO and governments are produced using two proprietary datasets, both of which are available to be licensed for research and other purposes:

  • NewsGuard’s Misinformation Fingerprints, a machine-readable catalog of the top current misinformation narratives designed for use by artificial intelligence tools to identify content matching specific false claims.
  • NewsGuard’s News Website Reliability Ratings, which consists of credibility ratings for over 6,300 news and information websites that account for 95% of online engagement with news in the UK, US, France, Germany and Italy.

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