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R Soc Open Sci ; 9(10): 220716, 2022 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2087953


Online platforms play a relevant role in the creation and diffusion of false or misleading news. Concerningly, the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping a communication network which reflects the emergence of collective attention towards a topic that rapidly gained universal interest. Here, we characterize the dynamics of this network on Twitter, analysing how unreliable content distributes among its users. We find that a minority of accounts is responsible for the majority of the misinformation circulating online, and identify two categories of users: a few active ones, playing the role of 'creators', and a majority playing the role of 'consumers'. The relative proportion of these groups (approx. 14% creators-86% consumers) appears stable over time: consumers are mostly exposed to the opinions of a vocal minority of creators (which are the origin of 82% of fake content in our data), that could be mistakenly understood as representative of the majority of users. The corresponding pressure from a perceived majority is identified as a potential driver of the ongoing COVID-19 infodemic.