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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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Series / Misinformation age

Platforms give pols a free pass to lie

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Over the past week, Facebook and Twitter have codified a dual-class system for free speech: one set of rules for politicians or "world leaders," another for the rest of us.

Why it matters: Social media platforms are privately owned spaces that have absorbed a huge chunk of our public sphere, and the rules they're now hashing out will shape the information climate around elections for years to come.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: The LCV's $4M ad buy

A screenshot from a new League of Conservation Voters ad supporting Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power are aiming another $4 million worth of ads at centrist House Democrats, urging them to support the climate provisions in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Progressive groups are trying to counter the onslaught of conservative money pouring into swing districts. Both sides are trying to define Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and pressure lawmakers to support — or oppose — the legislation scheduled for a vote in the House this week.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Shutdown Plan B

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate will hold a futile vote Monday night — just 72 hours before a potential shutdown — on a House-passed bill to fund the government through Dec. 3 and raise the debt limit.

Why it matters: The bill is going to fail. Period. But then comes Plan B: A "clean" continuing resolution — stripped of language about raising the debt limit — that Democrats spent the past week preparing, Axios is told.

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