Fake News for the Week Ending May 15, 2020

Sometimes it seems that everything’s fake and nothing’s real. Let’s try and sort things out a bit.


  • You may have seen, on social media no doubt, a tweet that then-not-president Donald Trump made back in 2009 stating that, unlike then-president Obama, he “would never let thousands of Americans die from a pandemic while in office.” That seems like something Trump would have said, but he never did. That whole “tweet” is fake, which you can tell because it runs 300 characters in what was then a 140-character Twitter world. Snopes does the usual debunking.
It’s fake, folks.
  • Get ready for tons of fake news and misinformation about any COVID-19 vaccine that gets developed. Some of it will come from traditional anti-vaxxers, others from the same folks spreading lies about Dr. Anthony Fauci and how drinking bleach will cure the coronavirus. (It won’t. It will just kill you.) The New York Times does the reporting.
  • Pandemic misinformation didn’t start with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Axios traces the history fake news about pandemics through the ages, from the Black Death through the smallpox outbreaks at the end of the 19th century. Here’s the article.
  • Ars-Technica has a good article on how the COVID-19 misinformation crisis is just beginning. It details how scientists are mapping how distrust in health expertise spreads through social networks. Read it here.

    The first system-level picture of nearly 100 million individuals expressing vaccine views among Facebook's 3 billion users across 37 countries, continents, and languages.
    Mapping 100 million individuals expressing views on vaccines on Facebook, across 37 countries.
  • Twitter is now flagging misleading coronavirus tweets with a warning label. Vox has the story.

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