How coordinated link sharing behavior and partisans' narrative framing fan the spread of COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories

Soc Netw Anal Min. 2022;12(1):118. doi: 10.1007/s13278-022-00948-y. Epub 2022 Aug 20.


This study examines the presence and role of Coordinated Link Sharing Behavior (CLSB) on Facebook around the "America's Frontline Doctors" press conference, and the promotion of several unproven conspiracy theories including the false assertion that hydroxychloroquine is a "cure" for COVID-19 by Dr. Stella Immanuel, one of the doctors who took part in the press conference. We collected 7,737 public Facebook posts mentioning Stella Immanuel using CrowdTangle and then applied the specialized program CooRnet to detect CLSB among Facebook public pages, groups and verified profiles. Finally, we used a mixed-method approach consisting of both network and content analysis to examine the nature and scope of the detected CLSB. Our analysis shows how Facebook accounts engaged in CLSB to fuel the spread of misinformation. We identified a coalition of Facebook accounts that engaged in CLSB to promote COVID-19 related misinformation. This coalition included US-based pro-Trump, QAnon, and anti-vaccination accounts. In addition, we identified Facebook accounts that engaged in CLSB in other countries, such as Brazil and France, that primarily promoted hydroxychloroquine, and some accounts in African countries that criticized the government's pandemic response in their countries.

Keywords: Conspiracy theories; Coordinated link sharing behavior; Covid-19; Facebook; Misinformation; Social media.