A small number of social media users could be responsible for amplifying and boosting a disproportionate amount of Covid-19 disinformation, a report says.
Academics at Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute investigated people’s activities on social media in five countries – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – via a survey conducted between 18 March and 30 April.
The team has identified a group they label as “super-sharers”, who amount to 6% of social media users and were much more likely to have shared Covid-19 disinformation. These individuals possess a number of common traits: They have admitted to sharing any form of disinformation in the past month, either knowingly or unknowingly; they share political news on social media at least once a day and have checked social media every day across three or more platforms. They also use social media to stay up-to-date with the news.
People who didn’t fall into the super-sharer category were statistically much less likely to have shared Covid-19 disinformation.
When examining the data from all respondents across the five countries, those who had seen Covid-19 disinformation were more likely to believe that it affects trust in scientists, experts and health policies “to a great extent”.
Professor Kate Daunt, who led the analysis, said: “Our research provides insights into the factors that make a person more likely to share disinformation about Covid-19, as well as the central role social media plays in people’s lives.”