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YouTube users looking for COVID-19 info are more likely to break lockdown, study says

And Facebook users who use the site as their primary COVID-19 information source are more likely to believe there’s no hard evidence the virus actually exists.

YouTube users looking for COVID-19 info are more likely to break lockdown, study says
[Photo: Anna Shvets/Pexels]

Do you know people who’ve broken lockdown rules? Or think COVID-19 is caused by 5G? Or believe the virus doesn’t exist at all? Then chances are good that those people get a majority of their COVID-19 “information” from YouTube and Facebook, a new study shows.

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The study, which was conducted by Ipsos Mori for King’s College London, reveals some disturbing connections between YouTube and Facebook use and conspiracy theories about COVID-19, reports CNBC. Among the findings:

  • 60% of people who think COVID-19 is linked to 5G radiation get most of their information about the virus from YouTube.
  • 56% of people who believe hard evidence of the existence of COVID-19 is lacking get most of their information about the virus from Facebook.
  • 45% of people who believe COVID-19 deaths are being exaggerated get most of their information about the virus from Facebook.

See a trend here?

But perhaps the most alarming revelation from the study is that it found that 58% of people with COVID-19 symptoms who broke lockdown rules used YouTube as their main source of information. The study also found that 37% of people who broke lockdown rules by having family or friends visit them in their home use Facebook as their key source of COVID-19 information. And it doesn’t stop there: The study also found that 42% of people who do not abide by the 6-feet social distancing rules got their main COVID-19 information from YouTube.

“Our findings suggest that social media use is linked both to false beliefs about COVID-19 and to failure to follow the clear-cut rules of the lockdown. This is not surprising, given that so much of the information on social media is misleading or downright wrong,” Daniel Allington, one of the key researches in the study and a senior lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence at King’s College London, said.

“Now that some of the lockdown rules are being relaxed, people will have to make more and more of their own decisions about what is safe or unsafe—which means that access to good-quality information about COVID-19 will be more important than ever. It’s time for us to think about what action we can take to address this very real problem.”

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