COVID-19 Disinformation Briefing No.2

COVID-19 Disinformation Briefing No.2 – 9th April 2020

Briefing paper

This is the second in a series of briefings from ISD’s Digital Research Unit on the information ecosystem around coronavirus (COVID-19).

These briefings expose how technology platforms are being used to promote disinformation, hate, extremism and authoritarianism in the context of COVID-19. It is based on ISD’s mixture of natural language processing, network analysis and ethnographic online research.

This briefing focuses on the way far-right groups and individuals are mobilising around COVID-19 in the US. The first briefing in the series can be found on ISD’s website.

Anatomy of a Disinformation Empire: Investigating NaturalNews

This report presents the findings of an extensive investigation into a network of domains connected to NaturalNews, a US-based commercial enterprise and website promoting conspiracy theories and disinformation. This investigation shines a light on the endurance of coordinated disinformation networks on and off social media platforms, as well as the challenges for and remaining limitations of technological companies’ responses to such threats.

The First 100 Days: Coronavirus and Crisis Management on Social Media Platforms

These platforms have been forced to mobilise at speed, trialling policies and enforcement approaches that can meet such a challenge. The briefing summarises the approaches taken by respective teams at Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google and YouTube, including specific services and policies introduced in recent months and, where possible, the accompanying rationale from companies themselves.