ScienceFlows starts a research on the characteristics of hoaxes and fake news about COVID-19 received via WhatsApp

Ana Serra/ Since the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, announced last Saturday, March 14, the decree of the State of Alarm throughout the country, different hoaxes and fake news have been spread and disseminated via WhatsApp about the COVID-19.

To carry out this study, we contacted our colleagues from Agencia SINCMaldita Ciencia, Salud Sin Bulos and the Asociación para Proteger al Enfermo de Terapias Pseudocientíficas (APEPT) to to collect the largest volume of documents to analyse. Also, we have enabled an email account (coronavirus.scienceflows@gmail.com) and a WhatsApp line (+34 623 03 73 76) in case someone wants to send us news they have received through this messaging channel.

Our subject of study will be text threads, videos and audios about the coronavirus. We will not study memes, nor photos, videos or funny montages, because the objective is to reach those “fake news” that are received as if they were true.

You can send us the hoaxes and fake news you receive through WhatsApp to our WhatsApp +34 623 03 73 76 o through email to coronavirus.scienceflows@gmail.com

We want to study the flow of hoaxes that come to us through WhatsApp by a known person and that refer to: conspiracy theories about COVID-19; people who say they know what is being done inside hospitals; or news that is not based on scientific evidence, such as the spread that ibuprofen was harmful for COVID-19 infection; or that Italian doctors are euthanising COVID-19 infected patients.

The analysis period will be from when the alarm decree was activated on March 15 until the decree is deactivated, and everything returns to normal.