Pres. Trump's diagnosis sparks conspiracy theories

By The Associated Press undefined

CHICAGO — News that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus sparked an explosion of rumors, misinformation and conspiracy theories that littered social media feeds.

By Friday morning, nearly 30,000 Twitter users had retweeted a variety of conspiracy theories about the news, according to an analysis by VineSight, a tech company that tracks online misinformation.

The news is ripe for foreign and domestic internet instigators to exploit by pushing online disinformation about the two presidential candidates and opens the door for unwitting people to spread misinformation without realizing what they're sharing is false, experts say.

Facebook said Friday that it immediately began monitoring misinformation around the president's diagnosis and had started applying fact checks to some false posts.

Twitter, meanwhile, was monitoring an uptick in "copypasta" campaigns — which are attempts from numerous Twitter accounts to parrot the same phrase over and over again to inundate users with messaging — about Trump's illness. The social media company said it was working to limit views on those tweets.

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