misinformation

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) wants to combat misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine by hosting town halls targeting specific, underserved communities and their questions over the next two weeks.

“It is important to share reliable, factual information about COVID-19 vaccines with all Ohioans,” said ODH Director Stephanie McCloud in an emailed statement.

An Ohio State University researcher is looking into ways news media can address the spread of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, with a boost from a $450,000 grant as part of Google’s work to create resources for covering the pandemic.

The general public has better access to health information and is more informed overall than during previous pandemics and major disease outbreaks, OSU Political Science Assistant Professor Thomas Wood said. But that hasn’t stopped the spread of misinformation.

A significant number of Americans believe misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus and the recent presidential election, as well as conspiracy theories like QAnon, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll.

Even As COVID-19 Surges, Misinformation Persists

Dec 16, 2020

COVID-19 vaccines could one day end the pandemic. But at the moment, cases — and deaths — continue to rise. So does misinformation about the disease.

One comment often seen on social media is that deaths are being attributed to COVID even when the patient died of something else. Dr. Sonal Shah, a hospitalist at Southern Illinois Healthcare, says some of that confusion may come from death certificates having two fields. 

The widespread embrace of conspiracy and disinformation amounts to a "mass radicalization" of Americans, and increases the risk of right-wing violence, veteran security officials and terrorism researchers warn.

Signs posted at the entrance to the grocery store in northwest Montana told customers to wear a mask. Public health officials in Flathead County urged the same. Coronavirus infection rates here are among the highest in the state. Infection rates in the state are among the highest in the United States.

And still, Craig Mann walked out of the grocery store, past the signs and toward his truck, maskless and resolute.

The pandemic that everyone's talking about?

Updated at 10:17 p.m. ET

President Trump's campaign has unleashed a multipronged legal offensive directed at states where vote counting continued Thursday based on unsupported allegations about fraud and irregularities in the election.

Attorneys for the Trump campaign sought intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court and also filed suit in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada seeking remedies they hoped would help their prospects in those places. In some instances, that included requests for counting to cease altogether or at least pause for a time.

Murphy Bannerman first noticed the posts this summer in a Facebook group called Being Black in Arizona.

Someone started posting memes full of false claims that seemed designed to discourage people from voting.

The memes were "trying to push this narrative of, 'The system is a mess and there's no point in you participating,' " Bannerman said. She recalled statements such as, " 'Democrats and Republicans are the same. There's no point in voting.' 'Obama didn't do anything for you during his term, why should you vote for a Democrat this time around?' "

A view of an Ohio voting sticker at the Hamilton County Board of Elections to participate in early voting, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Norwood, Ohio.
Aaron Doster / Associated Press

President Trump has taken to Twitter with a misleading claim that people who previously voted for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden can change their vote. But you cannot do that in Ohio.

Two voters fill out ballots during early voting at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

In 2016, Black voters in Ohio were among those most targeted for digital-media misinformation. Often, the goal wasn’t so much to sway their votes as to ensure they wouldn’t vote at all.

Ohio voting advocates are concerned the same type of campaign is in play this year – but many are going on offense instead.

Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET

Facebook said on Tuesday it will ban anti-vaccination ads, following widespread pressure on the social network to curb harmful content.

Under the new global policy, the company will no longer accept ads discouraging people from getting vaccines; ads that portray vaccines as unsafe or ineffective; or ads claiming the diseases vaccines prevent are harmless.

Michigan's attorney general filed felony charges Thursday against two far-right activists who allegedly coordinated a series of racist robocalls that discouraged voters in Detroit and other cities from participating in the November election.

Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl are each being charged with four felony counts, including intimidating voters and conspiracy to commit an election law violation.

Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET

Facebook said it won't accept any new political ads in the week leading up to the presidential election, one of several policies that CEO Mark Zuckerberg said will help ensure a fair election in November. One such measure involves deleting posts that claim people will get COVID-19 if they vote.

Facebook is announcing a new initiative for the 2020 election. The social network giant will offer voters information about voting in their state. And it will also fact check information on its platform. 

Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is proposing legislation to curtail online platforms' legal protections for the content they carry.

The proposal comes nearly three weeks after President Trump signed an executive order to limit protections for social media companies after Twitter began adding fact checks to some of his tweets.

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