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Covid, pandemic perfect storm for online fake news: the analysis

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In half of the cases, the tam tam travels on Twitter. And the more the bar of emotionality rises, the more fake news increases in number and takes hold. The pandemic? It’s the perfect storm. More than one medical device has ended up in the sights of news falsifiers in this period. The most targeted are masks: about 7 thousand false or potentially false news circulated on the web on this topic in the last 2 years, from March 2020 to March 2022. And if we also consider those on tampons (over 2 thousand), on pulse oximeters, on respirators and serological tests, fake news rose to almost 11 thousand (10,887). If 52% of this fake news travels through a social network, Twitter, blogs are responsible for 20% of fake content, while 8% of untrue news finds space on online sites. To trace the picture is an analysis carried out by ‘Reputation Science’, presented on the occasion of the third edition of the Umberto Rosa Journalism Award, wanted by Confindustria medical devices and sponsored by the Order of Journalists. The award was won by Alma Maria Grandin (Tg1), Vera Michela Martinella (Corriere della Sera Salute) and Giuditta Mosca (Business Insider). “The last 2 years have been a testing ground for many sectors, including that of information. The strong emotionality triggered by fear and amplified by the necessary restrictions has led to the proliferation of false news which, if always harmful, when they concern health they risk to be lethal “, observed Massimiliano Boggetti, president of Confindustria medical devices. The survey examined the conversations on the Net trying to map the spread of fake news about the most used medical devices during the Covid-19 pandemic. The research focused on five devices: face masks, swabs, serological tests, respirators and pulse oximeters. “From the analysis it clearly emerges that the spread of fake news is linked to moments of strong emotion – commented Andrea Barchiesi, co-founder & CEO Reputation Science – The proliferation of these false news mirrors the increase in deaths , a sign of direct proportionality between infodemia and emotionality. The medical devices on which more fake news have developed at a volumetric level were the masks, followed by the tampons, the devices on which users have debated the most and for the longest time. of social accounts and sites of a conspiratorial and denier nature has made the scenario even more critical “. Since they entered our daily lives in March 2020, the masks have ended up at the center of fake news regarding the alleged health hazard, probable causes of hypoxia and hypercapnia as well as candidiasis, oxygen reduction and tumors. The most advanced, but less widespread theories tell of nanoparticles that interface with the 5G frequencies. Most of the fake or potentially fake content is concentrated between Twitter (54.7%) and Blog (31.4%). The fake news on the masks are the ones that have registered the most interactions on the web, while the fake news regarding the tampons, on the other hand, develop along two lines: on the one hand, these tests are accused of containing poison capable of causing cancer or brain damage. , on the other hand, they are accused of lack of reliability and pointing to them as responsible for the altered count of cases. Most of the fake or potentially fake content is 75% focused on social media. The remaining 25% is divided between blogs and online sites. On serological tests, attention spans are recorded in the first phase of the pandemic. Fake news is based on the uncertainty of serological tests judged to be unreliable. 83% of the majority of fake or potentially fake content is concentrated in blogs, social networks and forums. they are concentrated between March and June 2020. Among the strongest statements, those that see forced ventilation as a harbinger of bariatric damage. Most of the fake or potentially fake content is concentrated between blogs (35.3%), Twitter (26.1%) and forums (14.3%). The turn of pulse oximeters comes with the rise in infections, and in fact these tools generate the largest number of conversations in November 2020, the second Covid wave. What causes uncertainty and then generates the proliferation of fake news, are the seizures of non-compliant medical devices by the Finance Police. Over 44% of potentially fake pulse oximeter content is concentrated within blogs.

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