You likely saw COVID-19 misinformation on social media, and it turns out bots were most-likely to be spreading that content.
University of California researchers looked at the links related to the pandemic that were shared in more than 200,000 Facebook posts, mainly regarding the use of masks. One such link researchers tracked was found to go to a misinterpreted study, and they found it was often being shared by multiple accounts to multiple groups, often in the span of seconds—a sign that the accounts sharing the post were bots operating in the same network.
Study co-author Brian Chu says, “Bots also appear to be undermining critical public health institutions. In our case study, bots mischaracterized a prominent publication from a prestigious medical journal to spread misinformation.” The researchers are asking Facebook and other social media sites to tighten restrictions on the spread of disinformation.