The pernicious contagion of misinformation

You’ve heard the claims. Hydroxychloroquine is a miracle cure for the COVID-19 virus. Wearing a mask is bad for you. Vaccines cause autism. Left-wing arsonists are responsible for the fires in California.

The internet is full of misinformation — that is, inaccurate statements — including the sinister, intentionally misleading subset known as disinformation. Both are spreading, a contagion that imperils society just as surely as the coronavirus itself. Those who spread it run the gamut of society; a new study by Cornell University researchers concludes that President Trump has been the leading source of COVID-19 misinformation reported by news media, who often repeat the information “without question or correction.”


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