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The Year in Misinformation, So Far

The Year in Misinformation, So Far
This has been, by any measure, a bad year for consensus reality.
President Trump’s impeachment, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests were among the many news events that led to disinformation online. But the topic most likely to generate misinformation this year was an old standby →
1. George Soros
The liberal financier, frequently targeted by right-wing conspiracy theories, generated the highest percentage of misinformation narratives, according to Zignal Labs, a firm that tracks online disinformation.
Out of 2.6 million total media mentions of him this year, 1.1 million — or over 45 percent — were accompanied by misinformation-related terms, such as false claims that he paid for U-Haul trucks used by Black Lives Matter protesters.
2. Ukraine
Second on the list was Ukraine, which peaked during Trump’s impeachment proceedings along with keywords like “deep state.”
About 34 percent of Ukraine’s 9.2 million total media mentions were flagged as misinformation-related.
3. Vote-by-mail
This has been the subject of a torrent of misinformation by the president and right-wing media outlets this year.
Over 20 percent of the vote-by-mail media mentions in 2020 have been misinformation-related, according to Zignal’s analysis, with terms like “fraud” and “scam” being common red flags.
The rest of the list:
4. Bio Weapon (24.2 percent)
5. Antifa (19.4 percent)
6. Biden and Defund the Police (14.2 percent)
7. Hydroxychloroquine (9.2 percent)
8. Vaccine (8.2 percent)
9. Anthony Fauci (3.2 percent)
10. Masks (0.8 percent)
Zignal drew its data from sources including social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit, as well as newspapers and broadcast TV transcripts, and its analysis focused on issues related to the election and the Covid-19 pandemic.
It isn’t an exact accounting of every single piece of misinformation out there. But it’s a rough gauge of which topics are most frequently targeted by false narratives.
We’re tracking viral misinformation here
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