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Second release of the ‘Online misinformation monitoring system in the time of Coronavirus’


The second release of the “Online misinformation monitoring system in the time of Coronavirus” promoted by AGCOM, the Italian Authority for Communications Guarantees, is now online and can be downloaded here. The report includes the contributions by Pietro Gravino and Vittorio Loreto from Sony CSL Paris, members of the new AGCOM task force that analyses misinformation on COVID-19 and the socio-economic impacts that information on this topic can have.

This second release is a follow up of the first special edition (here) and is rich in new findings. Starting with the supply side, it reports that during the second month of the epidemiologic emergency in Italy attention given by misinformation sources to Coronavirus remained high (37% of the total from April 13 to April 19). However, values were lower than those registered between March 10 and March 20. Nevertheless, if the information supply has exhibited a decreasing trend, the misinformation incidence on the totality of online information concerning Coronavirus has increased by around 6%. The textual analysis of misinformation articles on Coronavirus has even highlighted the emergence of recurrent narratives concerning the epidemic. These narratives, stressing risks, conspiracy theories and news, are characterised by communication styles based on the frequent use of terms that evoke negative emotions. 

Daily incidence of news concerning Coronavirus on the total produced news

On the users’ side, online searches concerning Coronavirus have diminished relative to the higher values registered within the critical weeks of the emergency. Users’ interactions with contents about the virus have also decreased on social media. In general, Europe has exhibited a peak in consumption of online communication services during the epidemic, and the crucial weeks of the emergency have seen Italy as a primary consumer of online information, with growing trends in the use of social networks, websites, and messaging apps. Furthermore, the first months of 2020 have seen an increase in cyber threats and attacks at the global level, with many of them exploiting the socio-psychological features related to the current pandemic. Finally, 16,000 new internet domains regarding COVID-19 were registered since the beginning of the year, with 20% of them having detrimental purposes to users.

Daily index of Google searches on Coronavirus

Click here to download the first release of the “Online misinformation monitoring system in the time of Coronavirus” (English version).

Further information and documents are available on the AGCOM website and GitHub.