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The leading source of false claims about COVID-19? Hint: it’s not Facebook or Twitter.

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Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Minorities and younger people are more susceptible to fake news and misinformation about COVID-19, and younger generations are also more likely to believe false claims they receive on closed messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, according to a new national survey led by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers universities.

The findings—released on Wednesday amid what scholars and public health officials have described as a “parallel epidemic of misinformation” around the COVID-19 pandemic—are the result of a study that gauged people’s acceptance of 11 false claims that have circulated online since the beginning of the crisis. It is the ninth in a series of surveys the researchers have been conducting since April examining attitudes and behaviors regarding the coronavirus crisis in the United States. 

David Lazer, university distinguished professor of political science and computer and information sciences at Northeastern, and one of the researchers who conducted the study, says the findings suggest closed messaging applications could be a vector of misinformation.

Continue reading at News@Northeastern.

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