The study in Sage’s ‘International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ journal, by a researcher from the University of Alberta in Canada, went over 9,657 pieces of misinformation in 138 countries. It included non-English content and covered the period from January 1 last year to March 1 this year. “The data used in this study are collected from the (Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network) IFCN website, which currently has the most comprehensive COVID-19 misinformation data collected from all over the world,” the author, Dr Md Sayeed Al-Zaman, told TOI.
The study found social media is the biggest producer of misinformation, accounting for 85% of it. Internet-based sources make up 91% of all Covid fake news. Among countries, India is the biggest source (18%), followed by Brazil (9%) and the USA (8.6%). The amount of misinformation is also the highest in India, at 16%, followed by the USA (9.7%) and Brazil (8.6%).
“Since there are limited empirical studies on this issue, the reasons can only be presumed now. I suspect that the weak information and communication infrastructure, less (digital) information literacy and information awareness among the people, and living prejudices in the Indian society could be the prime reasons for higher Covid-19 misinformation in India,” Al-Zaman said.
It is also possible that the spread of misinformation is associated with how bad the pandemic is in a country. “It seems that misinformation in the top countries is somewhat consistent with the number of casualties they have experienced during the pandemic … For example, in both the lists of Covid-19 misinformation and Covid-19 casualties, the following 10 countries are common among the top 15: India, the USA, Brazil, Spain, France, Turkey, Colombia, Argentina, Italy and Mexico,” the paper said.
The misinformation peaks also appear to hint at a link.
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