Conspiracy Theories Punctuate Trump’s Illness

Shortly after President Trump’s announcement on Twitter that he tested positive for coronavirus, conspiracy theories, misinformation and rumors ignited social media and underscored the dubious nature of some viral content.

By Friday morning, over 30,000 Twitter users had retweeted a gamut of false narratives regarding Trump testing positive. Of the ill-informed tweets, 10,000 mentioned the unproven treatment hydroxychloroquine and 13,000 referenced QAnon deep-state conspiracy theories

Other trending topics of misinformation ranged from Trump supporters blaming Democrats for his contracting the virus to anti-Trump groups alleging the president is faking his illness to distract from conversation around his tax records or debate performance.

The subsequent care and condition of the president has only brought new confusion. Contradictory statements stemming from when he was diagnosed to the treatment he is receiving have further fueled conspiracy theorists online.

To combat the misinformation surrounding the president’s diagnosis, Twitter is working to limit reach on Trump-related tweets which parrot the same phrases – which often indicates an organized effort to spread unchecked statements. Facebook has also announced that it is prioritizing removing content related to Trump testing positive that violates its rules. These efforts are angering social media users—especially women— alleging the platforms have turned a blind eye to their complaints of abuse.