Spread of Misinformation About Face Masks and COVID-19 by Automated Software on Facebook

June 7, 2021

JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association

The dangers of misinformation spreading on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic are known. However, software that allows individuals to generate automated content and share it via counterfeit accounts (or “bots”) to amplify misinformation has been overlooked, including how automated software can be used to disseminate original research while undermining scientific communication.

The researchers analyzed conversations on public Facebook groups, a platform known to be susceptible to automated misinformation,3 concerning the publication of the Danish Study to Assess Face Masks for the Protection Against COVID-19 Infection (DANMASK-19) to explore automated misinformation.4 We selected DANMASK-19 because it was widely discussed (it was the fifth most shared research article of all time as of March 2021 according to Altmetric5) and demonstrated that masks are an important public health measure to control the pandemic.

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