Fake News In The Time Of Coronavirus: A BOOM Study

We analysed 178 fact checks on COVID-19 related misinformation from January to May. This is what we found.

The rise of fake news around the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, leading to fact checkers and health advisors working round the clock to provide accurate information on the disease.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, BOOM has published 178 fact checks on misinformation/disinformation around the pandemic.

An analysis of our stories revealed that a bulk of the COVID-19-related fact checks were on communal rumours, most of which were false allegations against Muslims, of purposefully spreading the virus. These messages appeared in April, after several members of the Tablighi Jamaat - an Islamic Missionary group, tested positive for the virus following a massive congregation in Delhi in March.

We also found evidence suggesting that the number of fact checks published by us had a positive correlation with the number of COVID-19 cases in the country. During this period, as the number of cases grew, so did the number of pandemic-related fact checks by BOOM.

While most of the false or misleading claims were circulated with videos (35%), there was also a significant number of text messages (29.4%) being shared with fake cures, treatments or quotes from celebrities, along with images (29.4%) that were either misrepresented or doctored. We also noticed a small number of audio clips (2.2%) going viral with false contexts.

A few of our fact checks were on news reports (4%) by mainstream media organisations. Most of these stories were found to make false claims against a particular community.

COVID-19 Fact Checks By BOOM

While BOOM did its first COVID-19 fact check on January 25, the month of February saw major events like the Delhi Elections, Donald Trump's India visit and the Delhi riots dominate the fake news cycle.

There was a drastic change of topic in March, as more COVID-19 related misinformation went viral online.

Go to the next page to see our analysis on the misinformation trends, observed through our fact checks.

Updated On: 2020-05-08T13:44:23+05:30
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