This abstract is summarized by IPR from the original journal article published in The Journal of Medical Internet Research.
Wasim Ahmed, BA, MSc, Ph.D., and colleagues aimed to develop an understanding of the drivers of the 5G COVID-19 conspiracy theory and strategies to deal with such misinformation. (The 5G conspiracy theory linked the launch of the new 5G cellular network to the emergence of COVID-19).
The researchers conducted a social network analysis and content analysis of Twitter data from a 7-day period (March 27 to April 4, 2020) in which the #5GCoronavirus hashtag was trending on Twitter in the United Kingdom.
Some key findings from this research include:
- Content analysis revealed that, of 233 sample tweets, 34.8% contained views that 5G and COVID-19 were linked, 32.2% denounced the conspiracy theory, and 33.0% were general tweets not expressing any personal views or opinions.
- 65.2% of tweets derived from non-conspiracy theory supporters, which suggests that, although the topic attracted high volume, only a handful of users genuinely believed the conspiracy.
- The study identified an account whose sole aim was to spread the conspiracy theory on Twitter.
- Research found that the combination of quick and targeted interventions oriented to delegitimize the sources of fake information is key to reducing their impact.
Read the full study here to learn how to isolate social media voices aiming to spread misinformation.