Oct 6, 2020 - Technology

Conspiracy theories surge around Trump's COVID diagnosis

Data: Zignal; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Zignal; Chart: Axios Visuals

Misinformation related to President Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis has swarmed social media and the broader web since Friday, with claims that Trump is faking his illness gaining particular traction, according to data provided to Axios by social intelligence firm Zignal Labs.

Why it matters: Moments of national urgency are now becoming flashpoints in digital information wars, with misinformation being spread far and wide by malicious actors, conspiracy theorists and earnest dupes.

The state of play: False claims have already begun to diverge into a few different threads, including one holding that Democrats or “Deep State” operatives intentionally infected him as an assassination attempt.

Be smart: Some of these conspiracy theories have been spreading for months, but have experienced sharp upticks in response to the president's diagnosis.

  • One false idea picking up steam is that masks don’t work, because some of the GOP officials who have been infected during the current Trump-world coronavirus outbreak did at some points wear masks.
  • This storyline grew on Sunday evening, per Zignal Labs, amid media coverage of Trump taking a masked car ride to wave at supporters outside Walter Reed hospital.
  • The unsubstantiated claim that the virus was created in a lab in China also spiked over the weekend.

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