The Gateway Pundit (a far-right website that frequently spreads conspiracy theories) published a false article Dec. 29 that implied that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had withdrawn authorization for all P.C.R. tests for detecting Covid-19. The article was liked, commented on, and shared 22,000 times on Facebook and Twitter.
On TikTok and Instagram, videos of at-home Covid-19 tests displaying positive results after being soaked in drinking water and juice have gone viral in recent weeks, and were used to push the false narrative that coronavirus rapid tests don’t work. According to health experts, some household liquids can cause positive results, but the tests are still accurate when used according to instructions. One TikTok video of a home test that showed positive results after being placed under running waters was shared more than 140,000 times.
And on YouTube, a video titled “Rapid antigen tests debunked” was posted on Jan. 1 by the Canadian far-right website Rebel News. It received over 40,000 views and was filled with misinformation. “The straight up purpose of this test is to keep the case #’s as high as possible to maintain fear & incentive for more restrictions,” said one comment with more than 200 likes. “And of course Profit.”
Researchers say misinformation about Covid-19 testing has been a major issue in social media over the past week, as coronavirus cases have increased again worldwide due to the highly infectious Omicron variant.
Public efforts to manage the crisis in health are threatened by the spread of misinformation. The falsehoods surrounding the pandemic have previously focused on vaccines, masks, and the severity of virus. Health experts claim that the falsehoods undermine best practices in controlling the spread of coronavirus. They also note that misinformation is still a major factor in vaccine hesitancy.
These falsehoods are not valid. tests don’t work; that the counts for flu and Covid-19 cases have been combined; that P.C.R. Tests are not vaccines; that the flu and Covid-19 cases have been combined; that P.C.R.
These themes saw thousands of mentions over the past three months of 2021 compared to a mere handful in the same time period of 2020, according Zignal Labs. Zignal Labs tracks mentions via social media, cable television, print, and online outlets.
The added demand for testing due to Omicron and the higher prevalence of breakthrough cases has given purveyors of misinformation an “opportune moment” to exploit, said Kolina Koltai, a researcher at the University of Washington who studies online conspiracy theories. The false narratives “support the whole idea of not trusting the infection numbers or trusting the death count,” she said.
Gateway Pundit did no respond to a request for comment. TikTok pointed to its policies that prohibit misinformation that could cause harm to people’s physical health. YouTube said it was reviewing videos posted by The New York Times to ensure compliance with its Covid-19 misinformation policies. Twitter said that it had applied a warning to The Gateway Pundit’s article in December for violating its coronavirus misinformation policyIt also stated that any tweets containing false information regarding widely accepted testing methods would be in violation of its policy. The company denied that it would take any action. personal anecdotes.
Facebook said it had worked with its fact-checking partners to label many of the posts with warnings that directed people toward fact checks of the false claims, and reduced their prominence on its users’ feeds.
“The challenges of the pandemic are constantly changing, and we’re consistently monitoring for emerging false claims on our platforms,” Aaron Simpson, a Facebook spokesman, said in an email.
There is no perfect medical test, and legitimate questions regarding the accuracy of Covid-19 tests have been raised throughout the pandemic. There is always a chance of false positives or false negatives. The Food and Drug Administration warns that users may not follow the instructions and receive false positive results from antigen tests. While these tests are generally accurate when performed correctly, they can sometimes show false positive results when they are exposed to other liquids. Dr. Glenn Patriquin published a study on false positives in antigen testing using different liquids in a publication by the American Society for Microbiology.
“Using a fluid with a different chemical makeup than what was designed means that result lines might appear unpredictably,” said Dr. Patriquin, an assistant professor of pathology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.
Some defective products added to the problem. The recall by Ellume, an Australian company, of approximately two million at-home testing products it shipped to the United States last year was a result.
However, coronavirus testing is reliable in detecting high-level cases of the virus if used correctly. Experts say our evolving knowledge of tests should be a distinct issue from lies about testing that have spread widely on social media — though it does make debunking those lies more challenging.
“Science is inherently uncertain and changes, which makes tackling misinformation exceedingly difficult,” Ms. Koltai said.
The Coronavirus Pandemic – Key Facts to Know
Researchers claim that falsehoods are increasing despite social media companies’ efforts to crack down and that many lie about things that have happened in the past.
The surge “fits with the misinformation industry’s pattern during the pandemic,” said John Gregory, deputy health editor at NewsGuard, which rates the credibility of news sites and has tracked the prevalence of Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation. “Whatever the current mainstream story is, they seek their own narrative to undermine it.”
The C.D.C. The C.D.C. announced in July that it would revoke its request to Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of one test at the close of the year. The C.D.C. still has hundreds of Covid-19 tests available from other manufacturers. Later clarifications.
Posts claiming that the agency had stopped supporting P.C.R. were still being circulated. Facebook users went viral for the results of the tests. According to CrowdTangle data, which is a Facebook-owned social analytics tool, the most shared post promoting the falsehood in July received 11,500 likes and shares, as well as comments. The post added the falsehood that the C.D.C.’s advisory meant that P.C.R. The tests could not distinguish between coronaviruses and flu. However, the agency had recommended that tests that could simultaneously detect flu and Covid-19 be used.
Although the claim was fact-checked within days of its initial publication, it never completely disappeared. The Gateway Pundit article revived the claim at the end of the year, collecting nearly double the earlier post’s likes, shares and comments on Facebook. Instagram also saw hundreds of likes and shared screenshots of the article.
Gregory stated that similar phenomena had occurred with social media posts in which various liquids were claimed to have been positive for coronavirus.
A YouTube video showing coronavirus test results after being tested with kiwi and orange juices was posted on December 23, 2020. It was viewed more than 102,000 times. YouTube also posted a video showing the same results as the one with Coca-Cola. It received 16,800 views.
A series of similar videos featuring the same theme were posted on TikTok, Instagram and one year later.
For Ms. Koltai, the re-emergence of false narratives even after social media companies labeled them a year earlier shows the power of misinformation to “thrive when it can latch on to a current event.”
“That is how narratives can peak at different times,” she said.
Source: NY Times