Covid, 500 sites spread hoaxes about viruses and vaccines

Covid, 500 sites spread hoaxes about viruses and vaccines

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Covid, 500 sites spread hoaxes about viruses and vaccines

Five hundred sites spreading covid 19 hoaxes: from vaccines that modify DNA to vaccines that produce coronavirus variants. Today NewsGuard reports that its analysts have identified over 500 news and information websites – 41 in Italy – that publish misinformation about Covid 19 and its vaccines, as well as more than 50 vaccine hoaxes that trick readers with false and dangerous information. This “infodemic” is often unwittingly funded by advertisers whose advertisements are placed on disinformation sites.

“In the past year and a half, disinformation has contributed to the loss of trust in science and institutions, making the fight against COVID-19 more difficult,” said Andy Pattison, head of digital channels at the Department of Digital Health. and innovation from the World Health Organization. “NewsGuard’s ongoing efforts to identify sources of disinformation online have enabled the WHO, and the digital community in general, to take concrete action to tackle disinformation.”

NewsGuard analyzes and provides fact sheets of news and information sites responsible for 95% of online engagement in the US, UK, Germany, France and Italy. Each site is rated according to nine fundamental non-political journalistic criteria, and includes verification of the publication of fake content.

Of the 6,730 domains analyzed by NewsGuard, 519 have published disinformation about COVID-19: this means that more than 7% of the most followed news sites publish malicious content on the subject. Of the sites rated ‘red’ by NewsGuard, meaning generally unreliable, one in five posted misinformation about the pandemic.

Websites spreading information about false cures for the disease and false claims about vaccine risks often generate far more traffic than many other generally reputable sites.

For example, Children’s Health Defense, a site controlled by no-vax activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr, has achieved higher engagement over the past 90 days than the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes for Health sites. ChildrensHealthDefense.org has a score of only 17.5 points out of a total of 100 NewsGuard ratings, and NewsGuard warns readers of its unreliability: “Proceed with caution: this site heavily violates fundamental journalistic standards.”

Here is the breakdown of the disinformation sites on Covid 19 in the aforementioned states: United States 339; United Kingdom 21; Germany 42; France 59; Italy 41, and other countries 17.

NewsGuard recently published a study done with Comscore showing that companies unwittingly spend $ 2.6 billion annually on advertising on sites that post misinformation, including sites that post fake health and medical content. Earlier this year, NewsGuard reported that over 4,000 well-known brands funded sites promoting disinformation about Covid 19, including vaccine makers, hospital networks, and even the US CDC. For advertisers who want to protect their brand by avoiding funding these sites, NewsGuard has launched the NewsGuard Responsible Advertising for News Program: this program allows advertisers to exclude untrustworthy sites from their lists and include thousands of reliable and quality sites. fostering safer and more efficient programmatic advertising campaigns for the brand.

NewsGuard analysts have identified over 50 Covid 19 vaccine hoaxes spread online including through social media. Between these:

– mRNA vaccines modify human DNA;

– The vaccine against Covid 19 causes infertility in 97% of the vaccinated;

– Vaccines against Covid 19 increase the number of variants of the virus;

– Some airlines, especially in Spain and Russia, advise against people vaccinated against Covid 19 from flying due to the risk of thrombosis;

– Covid 19 vaccines contain luciferase, a substance named after Lucifer.

All these Covid 19 vaccine hoaxes are included in NewsGuard’s Misinformation Fingerprints, a catalog of the ‘fingerprints’ of the main false narratives on the net. The catalog, designed to be used by artificial intelligence tools to identify content corresponding to specific false narratives, includes the false claim, its debunking, the keywords used in the search and the social media tags associated with the hoax. Misinformation Fingerprints allow you to find all the variants of specific false narratives on the net, to discover their origin, and to understand which social media accounts spread them: it becomes possible to take adequate measures to limit the damage. The Pentagon’s Cyber ​​Command, the US State Department’s Global Engagement Center and Giphy social media service are among the entities that have used our product.

“It is shocking that more than 18 months after the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, we continue to identify new sites posting falsehoods related to the virus,” said Steven Brill, co-CEO of NewsGuard. “We are grateful to companies like Microsoft and to institutions, public libraries and schools for making NewsGuard’s assessments and fact sheets available to customers, users and students. We hope that digital platforms and social media will also offer the possibility of using NewsGuard’s middleware solution in their news feeds, so that their users can also know where the information they read comes from ”.

“One of the unsolved mysteries of the Covid 19 infodemic is the persistence of such heavy and widespread disinformation, that fueling doubts and distrust of vaccines has a high cost of human lives,” said Gordon Crovitz, co-CEO of NewsGuard. . “NewsGuard has verified that programmatic advertising is unintentionally funding hundreds of websites that post falsehoods about the virus and its vaccines. Advertisers are unaware that their ads end up on these sites – many of them were mistakenly convinced that traditional brand safety services offered this protection, but that is not the case. Traditional services protect against ad serving on pornographic sites through artificial intelligence, but to distinguish between generally trustworthy sites and the growing number of sites that profit from the spread of life-threatening hoaxes, it takes the constant effort of expert analysts who use in the their work clear, transparent and shared criteria “.

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