COVID-19 Misinformation Types Coding Schema  & Dashboard

The COVID-19 Misinformation Types Coding Schema includes 12 of the most common types of COVID-19 misinformation and their definitions. The coding schema was developed based on our manual review of thousands of debunked claims containing keywords “COVID” or “Coronavirus” (as recorded by the Google Fact Check Tools since January 22, 2020). 

The coding schema was developed to facilitate a systematic review and grouping of similar claims under the same claim type. By applying the coding schema, researchers can study the types of claims that are circulating online and offline, their prevalence and persistence over time. The coding schema can also inform work by policy makers and developers when implementing different mitigation strategies in response to different claim types.  An earlier version of this coding schema, with seven initial categories, was published in Policy Options Magazine on April 14, 2020.

 Claim TypeDescription
🗺Country or Region-specific ClaimsCOVID-19 related claims specific to a country, region, or city.
Examples include purported action of elected officials and other public authorities, or the reporting of statistics about the number of cases from a specific area.
💉Diagnostics, Prevention, CuresClaims about unlicensed COVID-19 tests, home remedies and natural medicine presented as a “cure” to or as a “preventive” measure from contracting the virus.
Examples include everything from drinking lots of water to drinking bleach, to taking cocaine. This category also includes claims about the existence, development, testing or distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. Finally, the category includes statements about the effectiveness of or how to make your own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
🔍Speculation on the Origin, Conspiracy Theories and PrognosticationClaims and discussions of various theories about the origin of the virus and other conspiracy theories related to the pandemic. Examples include “the virus was created in a laboratory”, “5G technology caused or contributed to the pandemic”.
This category also includes reports of prognostication by famous (usually dead) people who purportedly predicted the pandemic.
👎👍Exaggeration of the Virus SeverityClaims exaggerating the virus severity: either diminishing it severity (e.g., “it’s just like the flu”) or inflating its severity (e.g., photos of mass graves or bodies lying on the street).
🌍Race, Ethnicity, Religion, and IdentityClaims with a reference to someone’s identity including race, gender, sexual orientation, ideology, religion, nationality, etc.
Examples include linking or accusing people of certain religion or ethnicity to the intentional or unintentional spread of the virus.
🧬TransmissionGeneral claims about how the virus spreads (e.g., via food, travel, clothes), or how long it survives on different surfaces, or whether it is airborne. This category also includes reports about the virus transmission across species, and cases when individuals intentionally or unintentionally spread the virus in public spaces.
🎤Public FiguresRumours about public figures (e.g., politician, celebrity, business leader, social media influencers) contracting the virus or dying because of it (e.g., a false claim about the death of the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson).
📈Business and the EconomyStatements about how the virus has affected the stock markets, the state of the economy or financial outlook for a country or the world.
This category also includes claims related to specific businesses and how they are affected by the pandemic (e.g., “Corona beer sales have dropped sharply due to fear about the coronavirus”, or that supposedly “Netflix gives away free subscription”).
🛌Symptoms or Medical ProceduresClaims related to or showing symptoms or effect of the virus on a human body, or content (e.g., videos, photos) showing a purported medical procedures or treatment done by healthcare workers or in a clinical setting on a purported COVID-19 patient.
🌲Nature and the EnvironmentReports and observations linking the pandemic to changes observed in the weather, the climate or nature.
Examples include claims of sightings of wildlife in urban areas due to the lockdown, reduction or increases in pollution because of the pandemic.
💰Scams and FraudsThe deceptive use of facts and stories about COVID-19 to trick someone.
Examples include luring people to fake websites with the promise of virus-related cures or government benefits for the purpose of stealing people’s personal information, or convincing people to donate to fake charitable campaigns.
❔OtherUncategorized claims or claims that did not fit in other categories.

Explore COVID-19 Fact-checked Claims Grouped by Claim Type (over time)

How to use the COVID-19 Misinformation Types Coding Schema Dashboard

  1. Click on any of the data points on any of the interactive charts.
  2. To go back, click on the little back arrow button in the upper left corner of the chart.
  3. To reset the entire dashboard, use the reload page button in your browser.