The Morbid Realities of Social Media: An Investigation into the Misinformation Shared by the Deceased Victims of COVID-19

by   Hussam Habib, et al.

Social media platforms have had considerable impact on the real world especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Misinformation related to Covid-19 might have caused significant impact on the population specifically due to its association with dangerous beliefs such as anti-vaccination and Covid denial. In this work, we study a unique dataset of Facebook posts by users who shared and believed in Covid-19 misinformation before succumbing to Covid-19 often resulting in death. We aim to characterize the dominant themes and sources present in the victim's posts along with identifying the role of the platform in handling deadly narratives. Our analysis reveals the overwhelming politicization of Covid-19 through the prevalence of anti-government themes propagated by right-wing political and media ecosystem. Furthermore, we highlight the failures of Facebook's implementation and completeness of soft moderation actions intended to warn users of misinformation. Results from this study bring insights into the responsibility of political elites in shaping public discourse and the platform's role in dampening the reach of harmful misinformation.


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