Report Finds COVID-19 Superspreaders Still Spreading On Facebook, Twitter

More than a year after a leading fake news and misinformation watchdog published a report documenting the COVID-19 misinformation "superspreader" accounts active on Facebook and Twitter, at least half of them are still active, and many have grown their follower base.

That's the finding of a new analysis released this morning by NewsGuard, which finds that 53% of Facebook's and 50% of Twitter's superspreaders are still actively publishing misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report estimates the accounts that are still actively publishing false claims grew their "likes" and/or follower base by more than 1 million since NewsGuard benchmarked the activity in April 2020.

According to the report, false claims published by the still active accounts include:

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    COVID-19 does not exist

  • Bill Gates announced that COVID-19 vaccines would result in 700,000 deaths

  • 5G technology is linked to the spread of COVID-19

  • COVID-19 was predicted in a simulation

  • Vitamin C can prevent COVID-19

  • COVID-19 is a “biological weapon which was created in an American military laboratory”

  • Healthy people “suffer no harm” from COVID-19

  • COVID-19 vaccines have microchip tracking technology funded by Bill Gates

"Facebook and Twitter could take a variety of effective steps to mitigate the damage posed by these publishers beyond the opaque, unaccountable, and demonstrably inconsistent step of simply censoring them by removing them or suppressing how many users see them," NewsGuard's analysts write, adding, "These could include fact-checking individual posts, although fact checking is hard to scale and is only effective after false claims spread widely. Platforms could also adopt the more scalable and effective step of proactively providing ratings and labels explaining to their users that a source in their news feeds."

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