August 6, 2020

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This week, I sat down (virtually) with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and PolitiFact editor-in-chief Angie Holan to chat about something that hopefully interests you as a reader of this newsletter: COVID-19 misinformation.

“You don’t get a lot of chances to do the right thing,” Gupta said about resisting the urge to click the share button when you see a coronavirus claim. “Now is one of them.”

I couldn’t agree more — especially if you have a big platform. On that note, onto our first big COVID-19 story to kick off our August newsletters: The NBA bubble may be keeping the coronavirus contained, but it isn’t doing the same for misinformation.

In between all the dunks, 3-pointers and overtime finishes from the first week of the league’s summer restart in Orlando, Florida, a pair of young players drew controversy off the court when they spread falsehoods and conspiracies about the coronavirus online.

The Toronto Raptors’ Terence Davis on his Instagram page appeared to promote false theories about cures for COVID-19, including a debunked video featuring physicians with histories of making unproven, conspiratorial or bizarre medical claims.

But these conspiracies aren’t just limited to the Eastern Conference, Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. during a Q&A on Snapchat falsely claimed that the coronavirus is being used for “population control.”

False claims that the coronavirus was artificially created or weaponized for “population control” have been around since the beginning of the outbreak. But they were always baseless.

The recent social media postings from Davis and Porter Jr. underscore how easily misinformation can spread among those with the biggest platforms.

Click here to read the full story.

Gupta: Stop before sharing COVID-19 misinformation

In a wide-ranging interview with PolitiFact editor-in-chief Angie Holan, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta discusses tips to avoid spreading coronavirus misinformation, the future of a vaccine — think late 2021 — and why “taking a beat” and fact-checking something before sharing it is the right thing to do. Watch the video»

The common cold won’t cause a false positive COVID-19 test

A screenshot from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website that appears out of context is a warning about COVID-19 antibody tests, not viral tests for current infections. The comments under the social media post containing the screenshot make clear that some people are seeing this image and believing that a common cold can cause a false positive on a COVID-19 test. Get the facts»

Facebook post claims Herman Cain died of cancer, not coronavirus

Herman Cain died of complications from COVID-19 on July 30. In 2006, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, which spread to his liver, but he recovered and went on to run for president in 2012. Read the fact-check»

Know a teen who hates COVID-19 misinformation?

MediaWise is looking for middle and high school students interested in social media to help us debunk viral misinformation! Teen Fact-Checking Network members will search social media for potentially false claims, produce fact-checks for social media and help teach media literacy skills. Check it out»

Fact-checking Chuck Schumer’s claim that Republican bill says ‘no medical malpractice suits’

The bill does not prohibit the filing of medical malpractice lawsuits, but it does set strict standards that must be met for a case to succeed. The standards could restrict the number of cases filed, experts said. Read more»

Does a CDC-WHO study prove that masks don’t prevent the spread of COVID-19?

A video shared on Facebook claims that a 2020 study from the CDC and the World Health Organization “proves face masks do not prevent the spread of a virus.” The study was done on influenza, which spreads in ways similar to COVID-19, but it makes no mention of COVID-19. And one of the study’s authors told PolitiFact the claim is incorrect. Get the facts»

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Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.

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Alex Mahadevan is senior multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project. He most recently worked as a data journalist at the personal finance startup The Penny…
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