With Covid-19 Falsehoods “Misinformation” Beats “Fake News” And “Disinformation” But Not By Much

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When it comes to the myriad falsehoods swirling around the Covid-19 discourse, which term is most commonly used to describe them: “misinformation,” “disinformation” or “fake news?”

The timeline below shows the percentage of global online news coverage monitored by the GDELT Project that mentioned “(covid-19 OR coronavirus OR virus)” and one of the three terms.

While “misinformation” is the clear winner, it is mentioned only slightly more commonly than the others.

Interestingly, “misinformation” is no longer being used just to refer to falsehoods unknowingly disseminated by the general public. As scientific knowledge about the disease progresses, accepted medical consensus is being replaced by new information. Rather than referring to this standard progression of knowledge as simply increased understanding of the disease, media outlets are beginning to refer to scientific consensus that is later updated as “misinformation.”

Even CNN recently referred to earlier medical consensus that Covid-19 primarily affected the elderly as “misinformation” rather than increased understanding.

Follow along with the live graph!

GDELT Project