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How Russia and China Are Manipulating Coronavirus Conversations Online

Josephine Wolff explores the ways in which the two countries are spreading disinformation, via her Slate column.

“REMINDER, BIDEN AND BLOOMBERG VOTERS, #SUPERTUESDAY PRIMARIES HAVE BEEN DELAYED TO WEDNESDAY DUE TO CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS. PLEASE RETWEET TO SPREAD THE WORD. #TEAMBIDEN #TEAMBLOOMBERG” read one of the misleading (and since deleted) tweets screenshotted and reported on by the Daily Beast on Tuesday. It was just one example out of several in which Twitter users, whether seriously or jokingly, tried to take advantage of peoples’ fears about the spread of the novel coronavirus to influence voter behavior with references to voters’ age (“As the virus disproportionately impacts the elderly, Biden supporters are urged to remain indoors”) and rescheduled primaries.

Even before Super Tuesday, there was lots of false and misleading information about the spread of COVID-19, the appropriate precautionary measures, and its economic impacts on social media. At times, it’s almost (almost!) possible to forget we’re in the middle of a presidential election.

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