COVID-19 fake news diffusion across Latin America
Social Network Analysis and Mining
Fact-checking verifies a multitude of claims and remains a promising solution to fight fake news. The spread of rumors, hoaxes, and conspiracy theories online is evident in times of crisis, when fake news ramped up across platforms, increasing fear and confusion among the population as seen in the COVID-19 pandemic. This article explores fact-checking initiatives in Latin America, using an original Markov-based computational method to cluster topics on tweets and identify their diffusion
... different datasets. Drawing on a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, including time-series analysis, network analysis and in-depth close reading, our article proposes an in-depth tracing of COVID-related false information across the region, comparing if there is a pattern of behavior through the countries. We rely on the open Twitter application programming interface connection to gather data from public accounts of the six major fact-checking agencies in Latin America, namely Argentina (Chequeado), Brazil (Agência Lupa), Chile (Mala Espina Check), Colombia (Colombia Check from Consejo de Redacciín), Mexico (El Sabueso from Animal Polótico) and Venezuela (Efecto Cocuyo). In total, these profiles account for 102,379 tweets that were collected between January and July 2020. Our study offers insights into the dynamics of online information dissemination beyond the national level and demonstrates how politics intertwine with the health crisis in this period. Our method is capable of clustering topics in a period of overabundance of information, as we fight not only a pandemic but also an infodemic, evidentiating opportunities to understand and slow the spread of false information.