January 16, 2022

Research Article: “Spread of Misinformation About Face Masks and COVID-19 by Automated Software on Facebook”

The research article linked below was recently published by JAMA Internal Medicine.


Spread of Misinformation About Face Masks and COVID-19 by Automated Software on Facebook


John W. Ayers, PhD, MA
University of California, San Diego

Brian Chu, BS
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Zechariah Zhu
University of California, Los Angeles

Eric C. Leas, PhD, MPH
University of California, San Diego

Davey M. Smith, MD, MAS
University of California, San Diego

Mark Dredze, PhD
Johns Hopkins University

David A. Broniatowski, PhD, SM
George Washington University


JAMA Internal Medicine
Published online June 7, 2021
DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.2498

From the Article:

The dangers of misinformation spreading on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic are known.1 However, software that allows individuals to generate automated content and share it via counterfeit accounts (or “bots”)2 to amplify misinformation has been overlooked, including how automated software can be used to disseminate original research while undermining scientific communication.

Source: DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.2498

We analyzed conversations on public Facebook groups, a platform known to be susceptible to automated misinformation,3 concerning the publication of the Danish Study to Assess Face Masks for the Protection Against COVID-19 Infection (DANMASK-19) to explore automated misinformation.4 We selected DANMASK-19 because it was widely discussed (it was the fifth most shared research article of all time as of March 2021 according to Altmetric5) and demonstrated that masks are an important public health measure to control the pandemic.

Direct to Full Text Article

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.