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How Coronavirus Misinformation Spread During The Early Stages Of The Pandemic

president donald trump mask
Alex Brandon
/
AP
President Donald Trump holds his protective face mask as he speaks while touring Ford's Rawsonville Components Plant that had been converted to making personal protection and medical equipment, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Misinformation about COVID-19 has proliferated during the pandemic. While many have broadly blamed "the media" for spreading falsehoods about the virus, what is the true source of misleading information and what are the channels most often utilized for spreading falsehoods?

One case in point: Early on in the pandemic, misinformation about the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine began to spread online, and President Donald Trump began tweeting about the drugs.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati analyzed thousands of tweets in the first four months of the pandemic to examine how conspiracy theorists, pundits and politicians - including the former president - used mediated platforms, including Twitter, to spread misinformation. Their analysis shows the sometimes-dangerous consequences of spreading misinformation, and how specific actors, rather than "the media" more broadly were the purveyors of this misinformation.

Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss the study is University of Cincinnati Jounalism Department Head and Associate Professor Jeffrey Blevins, Ph.D.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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