Alerts are categorized as high, medium, and low risk.
  • High risk alerts: Narratives with widespread circulation across communities, high engagement, exponential velocity, and a high potential to impact health decisions. Are often more memorable than accurate information.
  • Medium risk alerts: Narratives that are circulating in priority populations and pose some threat to health. Potential for further spread due to the tactics used or because of predicted velocity. Often highlights the questions and concerns of people.
  • Low risk alerts: Narratives that are limited in reach, don’t impact your community, or lack the qualities necessary for future spread. May indicate information gaps, confusion, or concerns.

During a school board meeting in Ohio, a man repeated the debunked claim that a CDC study found that 80 percent of people who were pregnant at the time of COVID-19 vaccination suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth. The claim is based on manipulated data from the preliminary findings of a CDC study investigating COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy. Because the study only included data from completed pregnancies, the vast majority of those vaccinated earlier in their pregnancy are still pregnant. The study explicitly states that “whereas some pregnancies with vaccination in the first and early second trimester have been completed, the majority are ongoing.” Bad actors online misrepresented the study’s results by removing data from later vaccination and only including data from completed pregnancies in people who were vaccinated early in their pregnancy. The result is a dataset of pregnancies that ended early, either due to premature birth or miscarriage. The results presented in the study are preliminary and data is still being collected. At this time, the results suggest that there is no increased risk of miscarriage following COVID-19 vaccination.

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Ivermectin continues to be hailed as a miracle drug for COVID-19 on social media by influencers and commentators across the political spectrum. Some have speculated that the drug’s benefits are being suppressed or smeared to promote vaccination. Cases of people buying veterinary ivermectin and hospitalizations due to ingestion of livestock ivermectin have been reported in multiple states. According to the Mississippi and Texas Poison Control Centers, there has been an increase in ivermectin-related calls in recent weeks. Veterinary ivermectin products are used to treat parasites like heartworms in pets and livestock and are not safe for use in humans. Human ivermectin treatments have very different formulations and dosages than veterinary ivermectin and are not approved by the FDA to treat or prevent SAR-CoV-2 viral infection. Self treatment of COVID-19 with ivermectin has been strongly discouraged by the FDA because it can result in serious injury and hospitalization. Merck, the pharmaceutical company that developed ivermectin, said in a press release that there is no scientific evidence supporting the use of the drug against COVID-19.

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A video posted to social media features a list of recalled drugs and products that were previously FDA approved, including one produced by Pfizer. The video has received more than 21,700 engagements in the last two days and echoes sentiments shared on other social media platforms. The FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after months of rigorous review of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. The agency’s decision was supported by analysis of six months of data from Pfizer’s clinical trial, which enrolled 44,000 individuals from diverse backgrounds.

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A clip from a recent event hosted by a group that has previously spread COVID-19 misinformation has been viewed more than 47,000 times and shared nearly 12,000 times on social media. The video features a physician who claims that COVID-19 vaccines cause organ damage and that the government is hiding information from the public about the dangers of the vaccine. The claims made in the video are a repetition of the myth that the vaccines’ spike proteins are toxic or otherwise harmful to body organs. The mRNA vaccines contain instructions for the cells to produce a harmless spike protein that trains the immune system to recognize and attack the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. The spike protein itself is not dangerous or harmful to any organs. 

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An old video clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that masks are unnecessary with superimposed text suggesting that he was acting in collaboration with the Chinese government has racked up 4.2 million engagements on social media. Although the clip does not indicate when the comments were made, it was almost certainly before April 2020, when the CDC recommended the use of masks in public spaces to combat the spread of COVID-19. The agency made the recommendation based on evidence that asymptomatic people with COVID-19 could spread the disease to others. Dr. Fauci supported the CDC’s recommendation.

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A member of congress who has previously shared anti-vaccine rhetoric and COVID-19 conspiracy theories has taken to social media to express opposition to vaccine mandates based on the findings of a recent study that has not yet undergone peer review. The study used COVID-19 vaccination data from the Mayo Clinic Health System for the first half of the year and found that Moderna and Pfizer vaccines offer robust protection against severe illness and death but showed decreased effectiveness against Delta infection. Social media users are now arguing that mandating Pfizer vaccination is ineffective in slowing Delta’s spread, with some claiming the study makes boosters unnecessary and natural immunity provides superior protection against Delta. In fact, the current scientific consensus is that the opposite is true. Although Delta appears to diminish the effectiveness of the vaccines, vaccinated people are still far less likely than unvaccinated people to contract the variant. Even among people who have previously had COVID-19, being unvaccinated made them more than twice as likely to contract COVID-19. Boosters given at eight months have been shown to boost immunity and increase protection against all COVID-19 variants.

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As more hospital systems are requiring COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers, social media users on multiple platforms have started to cast doubt on the severity of the Delta variant and the surge in COVID-19 cases. These posts claim that hospitals must not be overwhelmed if they are willing to lose hospital staff who don’t comply with vaccination requirements. This claim ignores that staffing hospitals with people who are unvaccinated puts patients and staff at risk. Hospital admissions have increased by 322 percent in the last two months in the U.S., exceeding last winter’s peak in some states.

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 A popular social media account dedicated to politics and news for Black Americans warned against a targeted disinformation campaign working to “infiltrate Black Twitter via digital Blackface and memes” in order to dissuade Black people from getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The plan, which appears to have originated on a popular online image board best known for originating the QAnon conspiracy theory, uses the hashtag #askmewhy in images that co-opt the logos of prominent social justice organizations to which the campaign has no ties. The coordinated attack included the creation of fake profiles to post on social media and sow distrust in vaccination efforts. The campaign is particularly nefarious because Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S.

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Social media users are sharing articles from two conspiracy sites that falsely claim that CDC data shows more children have been hospitalized from COVID-19 vaccines than from the virus itself. According to these sites, 200 out of every 100,000 young people vaccinated will be hospitalized, while only 50 out of every 100,000 adolescents have ever been hospitalized from COVID-19. A CDC spokesperson denied the claim, pointing out that the articles misrepresent hospitalization data from a voluntary post-vaccination survey. The actual hospitalization rate for adolescents after vaccination was around 2 per 100,000. It is also important to note that these hospitalizations were not necessarily for vaccine-related injury.

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A social media video that has racked up more than 81,000 engagements is claiming to provide instructions to reverse alleged “damage” from COVID-19 vaccines for those who regret getting vaccinated or were required to get vaccinated by their employer. The video falsely claims that taking a variety of supplements including zinc, activated charcoal, an antioxidant, and undergoing a week-long water fast will repair cell damage. The video also claims, with no evidence, that the instructions have been confirmed by health care providers to reverse the effects of the vaccine. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that any of the recommended supplements will have any effect on a person’s vaccination status. Water fasting can be very dangerous. Health care providers should be made aware of any supplement use.

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Alerts are categorized as high, medium, and low risk.
  • High risk alerts: Narratives with widespread circulation across communities, high engagement, exponential velocity, and a high potential to impact health decisions. Are often more memorable than accurate information.
  • Medium risk alerts: Narratives that are circulating in priority populations and pose some threat to health. Potential for further spread due to the tactics used or because of predicted velocity. Often highlights the questions and concerns of people.
  • Low risk alerts: Narratives that are limited in reach, don’t impact your community, or lack the qualities necessary for future spread. May indicate information gaps, confusion, or concerns.
Monthly Misinformation Report

Explore Public Good Project’s report highlighting high-level health trends. This report captures information from April 6th – May 5th, 2024.

Vaccine Misinformation Guide

Get practical tips for addressing misinformation in this new guide. Click image to download, or see highlights