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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Scientific journals are easy targets of automated software that post links to social media, often with misinformation, according to a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: Automated disinformation campaigns that harness legitimate scientific research could further erode the public's understanding and trust in science, particularly around COVID-19.

Driving the news: Researchers looked at 563 Facebook groups that shared links to a Danish trial, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in November 2020, that supported mask-wearing.

  • About 39% of the posts that provided direct links to the study were in Facebook groups most affected by automation while about 9% of the Facebook groups were least affected by automation.
  • Among posts made to groups most affected by automation, about 20% claimed masks harmed the wearer and 51% made conspiratorial claims about the trial. In comparison, among groups with the least automation, 9% claimed masks harmed the wearer and 20% made conspiratorial claims about the trial.

The researchers said their findings indicated the study was likely the subject of a campaign to disseminate misinformation.

  • They recommended legislation to strengthen penalties for those behind automation, greater enforcement of rules by social media companies and counter-campaigns by health experts.

Go deeper

Political ads: "Fake news" is out, "foreign policy' is in

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

New data shows that since President Biden has taken office, topics such as “foreign policy," “climate” and “voting rights” have become a much bigger percentage of political and issue ad spending on Facebook, compared to the Trump era.

The big picture: Political ad spending can be a good proxy metric for the types of issues gaining traction amongst policymakers and interest groups.

Dozens missing after deadly Miami-area condo collapse

A massive search-and-rescue operation is underway after a portion of a 12-story condo building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to AP.

The latest: As many as 99 people are reported missing, Miami-Dade County's police director said, per the Miami Herald.

Biden strikes infrastructure deal with bipartisan group of senators

President Biden announced Thursday that he had agreed to a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan with a bipartisan group of ten senators, declaring: "We have a deal."

Why it matters: The agreement on the size and scope of an infrastructure package is a major achievement for Biden, who has long been a proponent of bipartisanship, but the compromise still faces serious hurdles in the House and Senate.

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