Virality Project

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Launching the Virality Project

The global COVID-19 crisis has significantly shifted the landscape for mis- and disinformation as the pandemic has become the primary concern of almost every nation on the planet. This has perhaps never happened before; few topics have commanded and sustained attention at a global level simultaneously, or provided such a wealth of opportunities for governments, economically motivated actors, and domestic activists alike to spread malign narratives in service to their interests. In response, the Stanford Internet Observatory is launching the Virality Project, a global study aimed at understanding the disinformation dynamics specific to the COVID-19 crisis. 


virality project logoIn January 2020, the Stanford Internet Observatory expanded this project in collaboration with colleagues at New York University, the University of Washington, the National Council on Citizenship, and Graphika. The work of that collaboration is at 

Blog Posts

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Two Faces of Russian Information Operations: Coronavirus Coverage in Spanish

RT en Español leaves coronavirus-related disinformation to other sites in the Russia-aligned information space.
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Saudi Arabia State Media and COVID-19

How has state media in Saudi Arabia discussed COVID-19 spread and response in other countries? To what extent is state media customizing messages via their country-specific outlets? We assess these questions with data from 30 Facebook Pages.
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Mask Diplomacy: Chinese Narratives in the COVID Era

China has been shipping medical supplies to countries battling the coronavirus pandemic, an effort dubbed “mask diplomacy.” It remains to be seen if China will be able to tailor its messages effectively to win hearts and minds of people around the world.
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RT and the Coronavirus Pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world, RT’s English-language branches worked to undermine lockdown measures in Western countries while extolling the Russian and Chinese governments’ success in containing the virus’s spread.
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Marketing meets Misinformation

Pseudoscience and government conspiracy theories swirl on social media, though most of them stay largely confined to niche communities. In the current environment a combination of anger at what some see as overly restrictive government policies, conflicting information about treatments and disease spread, and anxiety about the future has many people searching for facts...and finding misinformation.
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Coronavirus Conspiracy Claims: What’s Behind a Chinese Diplomat’s COVID-19 Misdirection

As scientists continue to study how the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Wuhan, China, and around the world, the infection’s early pathways have proven fertile ground for speculation and conspiracy theories. Although COVID-19’s earliest origins may remain uncertain, the story of one volley in the ongoing U.S.-China blame game shows that misinformation about the disease can be traced to specific speculations, distortions, and amplifications.
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Pandemics & Propaganda: How Chinese State Media Shapes Conversations on Coronavirus

The perception of China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a significant challenge for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the past two months. The CCP has been attempting to control the narrative and deflect blame since the start of the outbreak, both domestically and abroad.