Social media users and conservatives were more likely to spread to COVID-19 conspiracy theories

According to research by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, COVID-19 conspiracy theories were more likely to have spread by users of social media and conservative thinkers.

The study occurred from March to July of 2020. Its findings appeared in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Researchers investigated various social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, and conservative media outlets like Fox News and Breitbart News.

The people who consumed conservative-based mass media online tended to express conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic, believing that the disease originated as a form of bioweapon.

Other conspiracy theories commonly shared among the conservative and social media users involved the pharmaceutical industry’s alleged creation of the disease to boost sales and accusations of the top health institutions having developed the virus to oust the 45th U.S. president.

“Because belief in COVID-related conspiracy theories predicts resistance to both preventive behaviors and future vaccination for the virus, it will be critical to confront both conspiracy theories and vaccination misinformation to prevent further spread of the virus in the US,” co-authors Daniel Romer and Kathleen Jamieson wrote in their findings.

“Reducing those barriers will require continued messaging by public health authorities on mainstream media and in particular on politically conservative outlets that have supported COVID-related conspiracy theories.”