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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.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 mins ago - Economy & Business

The Leon Black clock strikes midnight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Leon Black is "retiring" as CEO of Apollo Global Management, the alternative investment giant he has led since co-founding it in 1990. But he is not making a full break, as Black will remain chair of Apollo's board of directors.

Why it matters: This is the culmination of 18 months of head-in-the-sand obfuscation of Black's dealings with Jeffrey Epstein.

Reddit traders look to pummel Wall Street's old guard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Reddit traders are taking on Wall Street pros at their own game with this basic mantra: Stocks will always go up.

Why it matters: Their trades — egged on in Reddit threads — have played a role in historic market activity in recent days.

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