Image Credit: Lanier et al., 2022, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Hashtag plandemic - how COVID misinformation spread on twitter

Embargoed until: Publicly released:
Peer-reviewed: This work was reviewed and scrutinised by relevant independent experts.

Observational study: A study in which the subject is observed to see if there is a relationship between two or more things (eg: the consumption of diet drinks and obesity). Observational studies cannot prove that one thing causes another, only that they are linked.

Social media became the home of an "infodemic" of misinformation during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and international researchers have tracked how users with tweets using the hashtags "Scamdemic" and "Plandemic" contributed to the disinformation storm. After removing retweets, replies, duplicate tweets, and non-English tweets, the analysis revealed over 40,000 users tweeted 227,067 times using the hashtags, and one in five users who used the hashtags were suspended by Twitter by January 2021. The most frequent tweet topic was "Complaints against mandates introduced during the pandemic”, with 79,670 tweets, which included complaints against masks, social distancing, and closures.

Journal/conference: PLOS ONE

Link to research (DOI): 10.1371/journal.pone.0268409

Organisation/s: UT Southwestern Medical Centre, USA

Funder: The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.

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