“COVID-19 was a FIFA conspiracy #curropt”: An Investigation into the Viral Spread of COVID-19 MisinformationDownload PDF


02 Feb 2022 (modified: 05 May 2023)ProjectX2021Readers: Everyone
Keywords: COVID-19, Epidemiology, Misinformation Detection, Claim Detection, Virality Analysis
TL;DR: A novel linguistics-based approach at misinformation detection and virality analysis within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abstract: The outbreak of the infectious and fatal disease COVID-19 has revealed that pandemics assail public health in two waves: first, from the contagion itself and second, from plagues of suspicion and stigma. Now, we have in our hands and on our phones an outbreak of moral controversy. Modern dependency on social media has not only facilitated access to the locations of vaccine clinics and testing sites but also—and more frequently—to the convoluted explanations of how “COVID-19 was a FIFA conspiracy” [1]. The MIT Media Lab finds that false news “diffuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than truth, in all categories of information, and by an order of magnitude” [2]. The question is, how does the spread of misinformation interact with a physical epidemic disease? In this paper, we estimate the extent to which misinformation has influenced the course of the COVID-19 pandemic using natural language processing models and provide a strategy to combat social media posts that are likely to cause widespread harm.
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