A new study suggests that mentions of President Trump played a big role in conversations involving Covid-19 misinformation in the first few months of the pandemic.
"We conclude that the President of the United States was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation 'infodemic,'" the researchers wrote in the study.
The study, which has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, was released online by the Cornell Alliance for Science on Thursday. Co-author Sarah Evanega said the peer-review process was taking too long and the authors chose to post it without outside input, and to alert news media, for quicker release.
The researchers — from Cornell University and Cision Global Insights in Michigan – analyzed media coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic across the Internet, podcasts, television, radio and other platforms between January 1 and May 26. The alliance is funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The analysis showed that English-language media outlets published more than 1.1 million articles mentioning Covid-19 misinformation.
Among those articles, the researchers found five different sub-sections of topics that emerged within the overall Covid-19 misinformation conversations:
- Various misinformation sub-topics such as "miracle cures" and conspiracies, which made up 46.6%
- Mentions of Trump within broader misinformation conversations, which made up 37.9%
- Coverage of the spread of misinformation or the "infodemic" itself, which made up 23.4% fact-checking, which made up 16.4%
- Mentions of Trump only in the context of misinformation, which made up 10.3%.
"It is apparent from the data that mentions of President Trump within the context of COVID-19 misinformation comprise by far the largest single component of the infodemic," the researchers wrote. "Trump mentions comprised 37.9% of the overall infodemic, well ahead of 'miracle cures', which comprised 26.4%."
The White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.