Special Report: COVID-19 Myths

Trail of Deceit: The Most Popular COVID-19 Myths and How They Emerged

by John Gregory and Kendrick McDonald

Editor’s Note: This report was updated in June 2020 to add additional COVID-19 myths that have become prominent online.

As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, NewsGuard’s team of journalists has been tracking, rating, and flagging websites spreading information about the disease in the Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center. The tracker lists a growing number of websites that have published false claims about COVID-19, from false cures and phony treatments to conspiracy theories about the disease’s origins.

Many of the sites in the tracking center publish the same hoaxes and myths as misinformation spreads virally from one domain to another and through social media posts that amplify false articles.

Here, we document and debunk the top 10 COVID-19 myths that have spread across these sites—and trace how each myth emerged and began to spread across the internet.

Click each myth below to see its entry. Or scroll down to browse through the full list.

  1. MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus was stolen out of a Canadian lab by Chinese spies.”
  2. MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus contains ‘HIV-like insertions,’ suggesting it was engineered.”
  3. MYTH: “The COVID-19 pandemic was predicted in a simulation.”
  4. MYTH: “A group funded by Bill Gates patented the COVID-19 virus.”
  5. MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus is a manmade bioweapon.”
  6. MYTH: “5G cell phone technology is linked to the coronavirus outbreak.”
  7. MYTH: “Colloidal silver can cure COVID-19.”
  8. MYTH: “Miracle Mineral Solution can cure COVID-19.”
  9. MYTH: “Garlic can cure COVID-19.”
  10. MYTH: “High doses of vitamin C have been proven to be an effective treatment for COVID-19.”
  11. MYTH: “Lemon and hot water can cure COVID-19.”
  12. MYTH: “The Italian Government is preventing migrants from being tested for COVID-19.”
  13. MYTH: “Bill Gates plans to use COVID-19 to implement a mandatory vaccine program with microchips to surveil people.”
  14. MYTH: “Getting a flu shot increases your risk of getting COVID-19.”
  15. MYTH: “Wearing a face mask can cause hypercapnia, a condition of too much carbon dioxide”
  16. MYTH: “Wearing a face mask will push the COVID-19 virus into your brain”
  17. MYTH: “George Soros owns a lab in Wuhan where the coronavirus was created”
  18. MYTH: “The French Pasteur Institute patented the virus”
  19. MYTH: “The French government authorized euthanasia in the middle of the crisis”
  20. MYTH: In Europe, “Contact tracing apps were automatically installed on people’s smartphones without their consent”
  21. MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus was engineered in a laboratory at the University of North Carolina”
  22. MYTH: “Dr. Anthony Fauci will personally profit from a COVID-19 vaccine”



MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus was stolen out of a Canadian lab by Chinese spies.”

THE TRUTH:

PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. all concluded that there is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus was stolen by Chinese spies from a Canadian lab. The evidence provided for the claim was that two Chinese scientists were escorted from the lab in July 2019. The CBC did, in fact, report that two Chinese scientists were escorted from the lab that month. However, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told the CBC that they were asked to leave due to an investigation of what it described as a “policy breach” and “administrative matter,” and that the matter was not connected to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. “This is misinformation and there is no factual basis for claims being made on social media,” PHAC spokesperson Eric Morrissette told the CBC in January 2020.

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

As NewsGuard’s Washington correspondent Gabby Deutch documented in Wired, the earliest example of this claim was a January 26, 2020 article on GreatGameIndia.com titled “Coronavirus Bioweapon–How China Stole Coronavirus From Canada And Weaponized It.” The article was then republished, word-for-word, on Red-rated misinformation site ZeroHedge.com, then one of the top 900 sites in the U.S., whose version was subsequently reposted on RedStateWatcher.com, an anonymously-run conservative site that is among the top 140 U.S. news sites as measured by engagement.




MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus contains ‘HIV-like insertions,’ suggesting it was engineered.”

THE TRUTH:

This claim was attributed to research posted on the website BioRxiv.org, where users can submit scientific studies before they have been peer-reviewed and published. According to a February 2020 article on the fact-checking website HealthFeedback.org, the study’s finding that there is a similarity between the new strain of coronavirus and HIV “was detected using extremely short protein sequences, a practice that often gives rise to false positive results,” and the authors failed to note that the same sequences are found in many other organisms. The authors of the study withdrew it from BioRxiv.org two days after it first appeared on the website. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

The preprint study on BioRxiv.org was first promoted by Harvard University epidemiologist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding in a series of tweets on Jan. 31, 2020, though he did note the study had not been peer-reviewed. Ding’s tweets and the preprint study were then cited in a ZeroHedge.com article posted that same day, which was in turn republished in full on InfoWars.com, a Red-rated far-right website that falsely asserted that the mass shooting Sandy Hook Elementary was a hoax, among other false claims.




MYTH: “The COVID-19 pandemic was predicted in a simulation.” 

THE TRUTH:

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Gates Foundation did host a pandemic preparedness exercise called Event 201 in October 2019. However the scenario used in the exercise involved a fictional coronavirus with different characteristics than the COVID-19 virus. For example, in this simulation, the virus originated on pig farms in Brazil, not in China. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

This earliest example of this claim was Jan. 22, 2020 post on Reddit’s conspiracy subreddit channel, referencing October 2019 news articles about the simulation along with more recent articles about the outbreak in China. It was then more widely circulated in a Jan. 23 article from InfoWars. 




MYTH: “A group funded by Bill Gates patented the COVID-19 virus.”

THE TRUTH:

While it is true that the U.K.-based Pirbright Institute has accepted funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the patent referenced in these claims covers a separate strain of coronavirus that only affects chickens, not humans. “Pirbright does not currently work with human coronaviruses,” the institute said in a January 2020 post on its website responding to the patent conspiracy theory.  

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

Fact-checking websites FactCheck.org and Snopes pointed to a Jan. 21, 2020 tweet from Jordan Sather, a U.S. conspiracy theorist with 140,000 Twitter followers and 218,000 subscribers to his “Destroying the Illusion” YouTube channel, as the earliest example of this claim. InfoWars then repeated it in the Jan. 23 article about the simulation co-hosted by the Gates Foundation described above. 




MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus is a manmade bioweapon.”

THE TRUTH:

Scientific evidence points to the virus originating in bats. A study published in the journal Nature in February 2020 found the new virus’s genome is “96 percent identical” to a bat coronavirus. A March 2020 study published in the journal Nature Medicine concluded that the virus “is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

Similar conspiracy theories have been promoted by misinformation websites during earlier disease outbreaks. For example, NaturalNews.com, a Red-rated network of site promoting both medical and political conspiracies, previously labeled the Ebola virus as a “bioweapon” during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa. The earliest mention NewsGuard could find of the COVID-19 virus being called a “bioweapon” was a Jan. 23, 2020 video from U.S. conspiracy theorist David Zublick, titled “Breaking: Coronavirus Is Bioweapon For Population Control.” Zublick has 160,000 subscribers on YouTube.




MYTH: “5G cell phone technology is linked to the coronavirus outbreak.”

THE TRUTH:

There is no evidence that the health effects of the COVID-19 virus are related to 5G, according to articles from Reuters and FullFact.org. In an April 2020 article from the BBC, Dr. Simon Clarke, a microbiology professor at the University of Reading, described claims that 5G either transmits the virus, or suppresses the immune system, thus making people more vulnerable to it, as “complete rubbish.” A March 2020 report from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection found no evidence that 5G networks posed a risk to human health. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

The earliest mention NewsGuard could find tying 5G to the new coronavirus was a Jan. 20, 2020 article on the Red-rated, anonymously-run French conspiracy theory blog Les Moutons Enragés, according to data First Draft News shared with NewsGuard. The claims then spread across Facebook Groups and YouTube channels already steeped in misleading 5G claims (such as asserting that it can cause cancer) with a new angle highlighting the novel coronavirus. They were then amplified on social media by celebrities such as actor Woody Harrelson and boxer Amir Khan. Some in the U.K. eventually attacked 5G telephone poles, prompting the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport to call on platforms to take action against the spread of these conspiracies.




MYTH: “Colloidal silver can cure COVID-19.”

THE TRUTH:

Colloidal silver is a liquid substance containing silver particles. According to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “scientific evidence doesn’t support the use of colloidal silver dietary supplements for any disease or condition.” Using colloidal silver can cause a condition called argyria, a permanent bluish-gray discoloration of the skins, nails, and gums. In a February 2020 article by The Associated Press, NCCIH director Helene Langevin said, “There are no complementary products, such as colloidal silver or herbal remedies, that have been proven effective in preventing or treating this disease (COVID-19), and colloidal silver can have serious side effects.” 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

Despite the lack of evidence supporting its use, colloidal silver has been promoted as a cure for all kinds of ailments, from bacterial and viral infections to cancer, since the late 19th century. Existing sellers of colloidal silver began promoting it as a treatment for COVID-19, most prominently on a Feb. 12, 2020 broadcast of televangelist Jim Bakker’s TV show. On March 6, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission warned Bakker to stop representing his silver products as a treatment for COVID-19 on his show and website. 




MYTH: “Miracle Mineral Solution can cure COVID-19.”

THE TRUTH:

Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS, is chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent that has been promoted as a cure-all for everything from cancer to autism. There is no reliable evidence supporting its use for COVID-19 or any other disease, and ingesting it can cause serious side effects such as severe vomiting and acute liver failure, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

The earliest mention of the theory that MMS could treat the new coronavirus strain was a January 25, 2020 tweet from Jordan Sather, the U.S. conspiracy theorist described above as originating the Bill Gates patent conspiracy. It was later promoted in a January 27, 2020 article posted on the website of Jim Humble, a former Scientologist and gold prospector who claimed to have discovered MMS in 1996. 




MYTH: “Garlic can cure COVID-19.”

THE TRUTH:

The World Health Organization has stated, “Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the 2020 outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new strain of coronavirus.”

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

The earliest example of this claim was a Jan. 31, 2020 post from an anonymous Twitter account based in the Philippines, sharing a recipe claiming the virus “can be cured by one bowl of freshly boiled garlic water,” according to a February 2020 article from FactCheck.org. 




MYTH: “High doses of vitamin C have been proven to be an effective treatment for COVID-19.”

THE TRUTH:

While a clinical trial is underway in China to test whether a high-dose vitamin C regimen is effective against the new strain of coronavirus, the claim that it is a proven treatment for COVID-19 is not supported by scientific evidence. Vitamin C has some marginal benefits for the common cold, such as reducing the duration of symptoms if it is taken before catching the cold, but those benefits can be achieved with a diet that includes 200 milligrams of vitamin C, according to Harvard Health Publishing. The daily dosage being tested in the Chinese trial is 60 times higher. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

The claim originated in a Jan. 26, 2020 press release titled “Vitamin C Protects Against Coronavirus,” from the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine, which promotes large doses of nutritional supplements. The article was then republished in full the next day on HealthImpactNews.com, a Red-rated network of health sites with 450,000 Facebook followers that has promoted false health claims such as the debunked link between vaccines and autism. 




MYTH: “Lemon and hot water can cure COVID-19.”

THE TRUTH:

This myth relies on the false claim that what you eat or drink creates an alkaline environment in your body, making it less acidic by raising its pH level. In reality, drinking lemon juice (or anything else) cannot change your body’s pH level. Similar alkaline diet remedies have been falsely promoted as cancer cures, prompting Cancer Research UK to call them “biological nonsense” in a March 2014 article.

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

This claim, according to a March 2020 article from PolitiFact.com, has its origins in a video shared on Facebook Messenger by Marian Gorban the owner of MrHealthyChannel, an alternative health channel on YouTube with more than 22,000 subscribers. This claim was first published by the Italian website ViralMagazine.it and received more than 70,000 interactions on Facebook, including more than 40,000 shares, according to data from social media metrics company CrowdTangle. The false claim was also published on the site FanMagazine.it, which is connected to the Facebook Pages ღஐღ Semplicemente Charlie ღஐღ and Ti amo, però ღஐღ Semplicemente Charlie ღஐღ, which have more than 2 million followers and more than 600,000 followers, respectively.




MYTH: “The Italian Government is preventing migrants from being tested for COVID-19.”

THE TRUTH:

The Italian Government has never forbidden the testing of migrants for the COVID-19 virus. As stated by the director of the provincial health authority of Ragusa Angelo Aliquò in February 2020, “Ministerial guidelines say that only those who come from areas at risk and have symptoms need to be tested.” According to NewSicilia.it, three migrants with symptoms who arrived in Italy on the Ocean Viking ship were tested for COVID-19 in February 2020, and the tests came back negative.

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

This claim appears to have first been published by the Red-rated Italian website VoxNews.info on Feb. 27, 2020, misquoting an interview of Aliquò by Il Primato Nazionale, a site connected to the neo-fascist movement CasaPound. The next day, the Red-rated ViralMagazine.it published an almost identical article — adding more fabricated quotes attributed to Aliquò — which received more than 80,000 Facebook interactions, more than a third of which were shares, according to CrowdTangle data.




MYTH: “Bill Gates plans to use COVID-19 to implement a mandatory vaccine program with microchips to surveil people.”

THE TRUTH:

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his charitable foundation have long supported vaccine initiatives. However, there is no vaccine — for COVID-19 or otherwise — with a microchip or other surveillance feature. In December 2019, researchers at MIT, who had received funding from the Gates Foundation, published a paper about technology they developed that can keep a vaccination record on a patient’s skin with an ink-like injection that could be read by smartphone. The technology does not have the capacity to track patients’ movements, Kevin McHugh, a Rice University bioengineering professor who worked on the study while at MIT, told FactCheck.org. The Gates Foundation told FactCheck.org that the research is unrelated to COVID-19.

Some versions of this conspiracy theory also assert that the purpose of the “tracking” vaccine is to control or reduce the world population, which is also false.

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

According to FactCheck.org and BuzzFeed News, conspiracy theorists have distorted comments that Gates made during a March 18 Reddit forum. Gates discussed “digital certificates,” a technology used to transmit encrypted information online, as part of a solution to expand COVID-19 testing. However, conspiracy theorists claim that Gates was referring instead to the MIT research into skin-based vaccination records — which is not related to the “digital certificates” Gates was describing. The website BioHackInfo.com published a story containing the false claims on March 19, 2020, the day after Gates’ Reddit forum, using the term “microchip,” which did not appear in either Gates’ statements or the research.

FactCheck.org and BuzzFeed News reported that the conspiracy theory was subsequently amplified by a YouTube video from the Jacksonville, Florida-based Law of Liberty Baptist Church, which received 1.9 million views as of publication.




MYTH: “Getting a flu shot increases your risk of getting COVID-19.”

THE TRUTH:

There is no evidence that the flu vaccine either increases or decreases the risk of being infected with the COVID-19 virus. Studies cited to back this false claim, such as one published in the journal Vaccine in January 2020, did not mention the COVID-19 virus, having used data collected years before the virus emerged. While some studies — including the research published in Vaccine — have found an association between the flu shot and non-influenza respiratory illnesses, such as the common cold, over the course of a single flu season, that association was not found in a larger study that included data from multiple seasons. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the preponderance of evidence suggests that this is not a common or regular occurrence and that influenza vaccination does not, in fact, make people more susceptible to other respiratory infections.” 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

DisabledVeterans.org, a news site that calls itself a “watchdog” of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, first promoted the claim in a March 11, 2020 article that cited the January 2020 Vaccine study. The same study was cited in an April 16, 2020 article by Collective Evolution, a NewsGuard Red-rated conspiracy theory website that has more than 5 million followers on Facebook. 




MYTH: “Wearing a face mask can cause hypercapnia, a condition of too much carbon dioxide” 

THE TRUTH:

Hypercapnia is caused by having much carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, such as can be caused by underwater diving. Health care workers who regularly wear face masks for long periods of time do not develop this condition. According to health fact-checking website HealthFeedback.org, even surgical and N95 masks are porous enough to allow gas molecules such as carbon dioxide to pass through, while limiting exposure to the respiratory droplets that could spread the COVID-19 virus. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

The earliest example of this claim was an April 6, 2020 post from a Facebook user in Bangkok, Thailand, cited in a May 2020 article from Agence France-Presse.  English language posts promoting the same claim began circulating in Thailand and South Africa that same month, AFP reported.




MYTH: “Wearing a face mask will push the COVID-19 virus into your brain” 

THE TRUTH:

There is no evidence that wearing a mask will cause the COVID-19 virus to enter the brain. “Breathing out the virus is not going to appreciably change the amount that is there,” Sarah Stanley, an infectious diseases professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told The Associated Press in a May 2020 fact-checking article. “Therefore, there should be no reason why wearing a mask would increase your chance of infection in the brain.”

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

A May 11, 2020 article on NewsGuard Red-rated anti-technology website Technocracy.news from Dr. Russell Blaylock, a retired neurosurgeon, was the earliest example of this claim identified by NewsGuard. Blaylock has previously promoted the debunked link between vaccines and autism in a health newsletter he edits for conservative news site Newsmax.com. PJ Media, a Red-rated site that is among the top 70 news sites in the U.S. as measured by engagement, repeated Blaylock’s false face mask claims in a May 14 article. While PJ Media later corrected other information in the article, its correction notice did not address the false claim about face masks pushing the COVID-19 virus into the brain.  




MYTH: “George Soros owns a lab in Wuhan where the coronavirus was created” 

THE TRUTH:

In the past, George Soros has indeed invested in WuXi, a pharmaceutical biotech company with a branch in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic started, as PolitiFact reported in March. However, he does not own the company, and there is no evidence connecting the company – or Soros – to the outbreak.

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

NewsGuard found evidence of rumors connecting Soros and this lab circulating on Twitter in late January. On February 24, it gained more attention when NewsGuard Red-rated Swiss German-language website Kla.tv published a video making that connection again. Then, as Politifact reported, the hoax appeared on Facebook on March 16. On April 1, French far-right website Ns2017.Wordpress.com promoted the claim, and another French Red-rated site called Lanceurdalerte.info shared it again three days later.




MYTH: “The French Pasteur Institute patented the virus” 

THE TRUTH:

The Pasteur Institute, a French research foundation, did not invent or patent the COVID-19 virus. The institute explains on its website that in 2004, it patented a strategy to create a vaccine for another strain of the SARS coronavirus, which is not the virus responsible for the Covid-19 disease. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

As French media Le Monde and Sciences et Avenir have reported, this hoax started with a since-deleted video published on Facebook on March 17. On March 18, NewsGuard French Red-rated website Ns2017.wordpress.com promoted the claim on its website.  




MYTH: “The French government authorized euthanasia in the middle of the crisis”

THE TRUTH:

In March 2020, the French government issued a decree that allowed doctors to temporarily use anti-epileptic drug Rivotril to alleviate pain for end-of-life patients in severe respiratory distress. However, the decree did not authorize euthanasia or physician-assisted death. There is no evidence that any patient in France was euthanized under these circumstances, and euthanasia is illegal in the country. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

First circulated on social media, this false claim was shared on April 7 on NewsGuard Red-rated anti-Islam website RiposteLaique.com. A day later, it was promoted by French far-right website NS2017.wordpress.com. On April 16, Red-rated French website BVoltaire.fr published an interview with a French medical doctor named Joëlle de Monredon claiming that the government’s move was “euthanasia and eugenics.” This interview was republished on April 18 by Contre-Info.com, a NewsGuard Red-rated website owned by a nonprofit connected with the Catholic nationalist organization Renouveau Français. 




MYTH: In Europe, “Contact tracing apps were automatically installed on people’s smartphones without their consent”

THE TRUTH:

As countries started lifting lockdowns, Google and Apple developed a tool for governments to build their own contact-tracing apps to curb the spread of the virus. In their latest updates, smartphones from the two brands included this exposure notification system. Some countries, like Italy, used this feature to build their national app, but others, like France, chose not to. In countries where governments decided to use it, citizens still had to download the app first, and to activate the feature before it did anything. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

In Italy, NewsGuard Red-rated site ByoBlu.com claimed on May 26 that the Google feature had been automatically installed and activated on people’s phones. In France, the Red-rated website LumiereSurGaia.com, a hub of coronavirus hoaxes and false information about topics such as UFOs and the environment, published on May 29 an article claiming that the French government had secretly installed its app on people’s phones, and encouraged users to uninstall it. (At that time, the French government app had not even been released). The false claim was then reposted on May 31 by Red-rated site ReseauInternational.net and, on June 1, by WikiStrike.com. These three websites are among the most popular misinformation sites in France. 




MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus was engineered in a laboratory at the University of North Carolina” 

THE TRUTH:

This variation on the false claim that the COVID-19 virus is manmade relies on misrepresenting a study published in the journal Nature Medicine in 2015. The research found that bat coronaviruses were capable of directly infecting humans, but it did not involve the same strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The study authors included researchers from UNC as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. A March 2020 editor’s note on the original study addressed the conspiracy theory. “We are aware that this article is being used as the basis for unverified theories that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 was engineered,” the note said. “There is no evidence that this is true; scientists believe that an animal is the most likely source of the coronavirus.” 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

The earliest mention of this false claim found by NewsGuard was a story from ShadOlsonShow.com in late February. Radio host Olson reported on his site that he was “First to reveal the links to the ‘gain of function’ coronavirus study by Dr. Ralph Baric at the University of North Carolina.” The claim received further attention when it was spread in a series of March 3, 2020 tweets from an account using the name Greg Rubini, which has 129,000 followers. According to a June 2020 article from BuzzFeed News, the Twitter account is run by an Italian man named Gregorio Palusa, a sound engineer and marketer. Palusa has no proven expertise in national security or intelligence, but conservative cable news network One America News brought this myth further into the mainstream by citing his tweets under the Greg Rubini pseudonym in a March 14 report, describing him as “a citizen investigator and monitored source amongst a certain set in the D.C. intelligence community,” according to liberal nonprofit Media Matters




MYTH: “Dr. Anthony Fauci will personally profit from a COVID-19 vaccine”

THE TRUTH:

There is no evidence that Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has personal financial investments in vaccines being developed for COVID-19. Fauci’s agency is working with pharmaceutical company Moderna on a potential vaccine — one of 141 that are currently in development, according to the World Health Organization — but PolitiFact found no record of a business relationship between Fauci and Moderna in an April 2020 search of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s database. 

HOW THE HOAX EMERGED:

PolitiFact reported that the false accusation against Fauci was made in an April 12, 2020 post on an anti-vaccine Facebook page called I Am Awake, which has 13,000 likes on the platform. A similar claim was made by anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., on an April 20 podcast hosted on TruePundit.com, a NewsGuard Red-rated website that ranks among the top 850 U.S. news sites as measured by engagement.


Correction: An earlier version of this page incorrectly credited a 2019 study to researchers at Rice University and MIT. While the lead author of the study, Kevin McHugh, worked at Rice University when the study was published, he conducted the research during his time at MIT. NewsGuard apologizes for the error.