Dafne Calvo e-mail(Login required) , Lorena Cano-Orón e-mail(Login required) , Germán Llorca-Abad e-mail(Login required)

Main Article Content


Dafne Calvo e-mail(Login required)
Lorena Cano-Orón e-mail(Login required)
Germán Llorca-Abad e-mail(Login required)



COVID-19 has generated a social crisis that has required the production of vast amounts of information of various types, including medical. In this scenario, hoaxes and fake news about health issues have also increased, encouraging disobedience of lockdown restrictions and opposition to vaccination against the disease. At the same time, because of their structure and functioning, social media networks have facilitated the production and distribution of such false information. YouTube has also been identified as a source of medical information including COVID-19 hoaxes. This research focusses on an analysis of a video viewing network on YouTube to trace the connection between various videos recommended on the platform and determine the content of the videos that compose that network. To achieve this, we carry out a content analysis supported by specialised software to extract and analyse the videos. The results reveal a limited network of videos about COVID-19, strongly related to each other. Its amateur aesthetic stands out, as well as the frequent appearance of certain personalities who, as opinion leaders in a scenario of the delegitimization of traditional institutions, become catalysts for hoaxes and fake news that call for civil disobedience and, sometimes, show links with the extreme right.


social networks, hoaxes, fake news, coronavirus, health, vaccination


Amazeen, M. A. (2019). Practitioner perceptions: Critical junctures and the global emergence and challenges of fact-checking. International Communication Gazette, 81(6-8), 541-561. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/1748048518817674

Anderson, C. W. (2020). Fake News is Not a Virus: On Platforms and Their Effects. Communication Theory, 0, 1-20. https://www.doi.org/10.1093/ct/qtaa008

Bakir, V. & McStay, A. (2018). Fake News and The Economy of Emotions: Problems, causes, solutions. Digital Journalism, 6(2), 154-175. https://www.doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2017.1345645

Bastian, M., Heymann, S. & Jacomy M. (2009). Gephi: an open source software for exploring and manipulating networks. International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. Retrieved from https://gephi.org/publications/gephi-bastian-feb09.pdf

Bastos, M. T. & Mercea, D. (2019). The Brexit Botnet and User-Generated Hyperpartisan News. Social Science Computer Review, 37(1), 38-54. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/0894439317734157

Bennett, W. L. & Livingston, S. (2018). The disinformation order: Disruptive communication and the decline of democratic institutions. European Journal of Communication, 33(2), 122-139. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/0267323118760317

Bharali, B. & Goswami, A. L. (2018). Fake news: Credibility, cultivation syndrome and the new age media. Media Watch, 9(1), 118-130. https://www.doi.org/10.15655/mw/2018/v9i1/49277

Bora, K., Das, D., Barman, B. & Borah, P. (2018). Are internet videos useful sources of information during global public health emergencies? A case study of YouTube videos during the 2015–16 Zika virus pandemic. Pathogens and global health, 112(6), 320-328. https://www.doi.org/10.1080/20477724.2018.1507784

Bounegru, L., Gray, J., Venturini, T. & Mauri, M. (2017). A field guide to fake news and other information disorders: a collection of recipes for those who love to cook with digital methods. Public Data Lab. Retrieved from https://fakenews.publicdatalab.org/

Bradshaw, S., Bailey, H. & Howard, P. N. (2021). Industrialized Disinformation: 2020 Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation. Computational Propaganda Research Project. Oxford Internet Institute. Retrieved from https://demtech.oii.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/127/2021/02/CyberTroop-Report20-Draft9.pdf

Cervi, L. & Carrillo Andrade, A. (2019). Post-truth and Disinformation: Using discourse analysis to understand the creation of emotional and rival narratives. Revista ComHumanitas, 10(2), 125-150. https://www.doi.org/10.31207/rch.v10i2.207

Chan, C., Sounderajah, V., Daniels, E., Acharya, A., Clarke, J., Yalamanchili, S., ... & Darzi, A. (2021). The Reliability and quality of YouTube videos as a source of public health information regarding COVID-19 vaccination: cross-sectional study. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance, 7(7), e29942. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34081599/

Clayton, K., Blair, S., Busam, J. A., Forstner, S., Glance, J., Green, G., Kawata, A., Kovvuri, A., Martin, J., Morgan, E., Sandhu, M., Sang, R., Scholz-Bright, R., Welch, A. T., Wolff, A. G., Zhou, A. & Nyhan, B. (2020). Real Solutions for Fake News? Measuring the Effectiveness of General Warnings and Fact-Check Tags in Reducing Belief in False Stories on Social Media. Political Behavior, 42(4), 1073-1095. https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s11109-019-09533-0

Cuan-Baltazar, J. Y., Muñoz-Perez, M. J., Robledo-Vega, C., Pérez-Zepeda, M. F. & Soto-Vega, E. (2020). Misinformation of COVID-19 on the internet: infodemiology study. JMIR public health and surveillance, 6(2), e18444. https://www.doi.org/10.2196/preprints.18444

Davis, L. S. & León, B. (2018). New and Old Narratives: Changing Narratives of Science Documentary in the Digital Environment. In León, B. & Bourk, M. (Eds.), Communicating Science and Technology trough Online Video (pp. 55-63). New York: Routledge.

Dias, N. & Sippitt, A. (2020). Researching Fact Checking: Present Limitations and Future Opportunities. The Political Quarterly, 91(3), 605-613. https://www.doi.org/10.1111/1467-923x.12892

FECYT [Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología] (2019). Percepción social de la ciencia y la tecnología 2018. FECYT. Retrieved from https://icono.fecyt.es/informes-y-publicaciones/percepcion-social-de-la-ciencia-y-la-tecnologia-en-espana

Ferrara, E. (2020). #covid-19 on twitter: Bots, conspiracies, and social media activism. arXiv preprint arXiv:2004.09531. Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/abs/2004.09531

Flew, T. (2019). Digital communication, the crisis of trust, and the post-global. Communication Research and Practice, 5(1), 4-22. https://www.doi.org/10.1080/22041451.2019.1561394

Gray, J., Bounegru, L. & Venturini, T. (2020). “Fake news” as infrastructural uncanny. New Media & Society, 22(2), 317-341. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/1461444819856912

Guo, L. (2020). China’s “Fake News” Problem: Exploring the Spread of Online Rumors in the Government-Controlled News Media, Digital Journalism, 8(8), 992-1010. https://www.doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2020.1766986

Gutiérrez-Coba, L., Coba-Gutiérrez, P. & Gómez-Díaz, J. A. (2020). La noticias falsas y desinformación sobre el Covid-19: análisis comparativo de seis países iberoamericanos. Revista Latina, 78, 237-264. https://www.doi.org/10.4185/rlcs-2020-1476

Hernández-García, I. & Giménez-Júlvez, T. (2021). YouTube as a Source of Influenza Vaccine Information in Spanish. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(2), 727. https://www.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020727

Jacomy, M., Venturini, T., Heymann, S. & Bastian, M. (2014). ForceAtlas2, a continuous graph layout algorithm for handy network visualization designed for the Gephi software. PloS one, 9(6), e98679. https://www.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0098679

Kapantai, E., Christopoulou, A., Berberidis, C. & Peristeras, V. (2020). A systematic literature review on disinformation: Toward a unified taxonomical framework. New media & Society, 23(5), 1301-1326. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/1461444820959296

Kirchner, J. & Reuter, C. (2020). Countering Fake News: A Comparison of Possible Solutions Regarding User Acceptance and Effectiveness. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 4(CSCW2), 1-27. Retrieved from https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3415211

Kouzy, R., Abi Jaoude, J., Kraitem, A., El Alam, M. B., Karam, B., Adib, E., ... & Baddour, K. (2020). Coronavirus goes viral: quantifying the COVID-19 misinformation epidemic on Twitter. Cureus, 12(3), e7255. https://www.doi.org/10.7759/cureus.7255

Lemos, A. L. M., Bitencourt, E. C. & dos Santos, J. G. B. (2021). Fake news as fake politics: the digital materialities of YouTube misinformation videos about Brazilian oil spill catastrophe. Media, Culture & Society, 43(5), 886-905. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/0163443720977301

Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U. K. H. & Cook, J. (2017). Beyond Misinformation: Understanding and Coping with the “Post-Truth” Era. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 6(4), 353-369. https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2017.07.008

Lynas, M. (2020). COVID: top 10 current conspiracy theories –alliance for science. Alliance for Science. Retrieved from https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2020/04/covid-top-10-current-conspiracy-theories/

Matamoros-Fernández, A., Gray, J., Bartolo, L., Burgess, J. & Suzor, N. (2021). What’s ‘up next’? Investigating algorithmic recommendations on YouTube across issues and over time. Association of Internet Researchers Conference. Retrieved from https://eprints.qut.edu.au/211320/

Milhazes-Cunha, J. & Oliveira, L. (2021). Doctors for Anything but the Truth: Investigating COVID-19 Misinformation on Facebook. In C. Karpasitis (Ed.), ECSM 2021 8th European Conference on Social Media (pp. 289-292). ACI.

Moreno-Castro, C., Vengut-Climent, E., Cano-Orón, L. & Mendoza-Poudereux, I. (2021). Exploratory study of the hoaxes spread via WhatsApp in Spain to prevent and/or cure COVID-19. Gaceta sanitaria, 35(6), 534-541.

Molina, M. D., Sundar, S. S., Le, T. & Lee, D. (2021). “Fake News” Is Not Simply False Information: A Concept Explication and Taxonomy of Online Content. American Behavioral Scientist, 65(2),180-212. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/0002764219878224

Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble. What the Internet is Hiding from you. London: Penguin.

Pennycook, G., McPhetres, J., Zhang, Y., Lu, J. G. & Rand, D. G. (2020). Fighting COVID-19 misinformation on social media: Experimental evidence for a scalable accuracy-nudge intervention. Psychological science, 31(7), 770-780. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/0956797620939054

Pérez-Dasilva, J. Á., Meso-Ayerdi, K. & Mendiguren-Galdospín, T. (2020). Fake news y coronavirus: detección de los principales actores y tendencias a través del análisis de las conversaciones en Twitter. Profesional de la Información, 29(3). https://www.doi.org/10.3145/epi.2020.may.08

Plantin, J. C., Lagoze, C., Edwards, P. N. & Sandvig, C. (2018). Infrastructure studies meet platform studies in the age of Google and Facebook. New Media and Society, 20(1), 293-310. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/1461444816661553

Powers, S. & Kounalakis, M. (2017). Can Public Diplomacy Survive the Internet? Bots, Echo Chambers, and Disinformation. Washington DC: Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

Rieder, B. (2015). YouTube Data Tools (Version 1.22) [Software]. Retrieved from https://tools.digitalmethods.net/netvizz/youtube/.

Rieder, B., Matamoros-Fernández, A. & Coromina, Ò. (2018). From ranking algorithms to ‘ranking cultures’ Investigating the modulation of visibility in YouTube search results. Convergence, 24(1), 50-68. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/1354856517736982

Salaverría, R., Buslón, N., López-Pan, F., León, B., López-Goñi, I. & Erviti, M.-C. (2020). Desinformación en tiempos de pandemia: tipología de los bulos sobre la Covid-19. El Profesional de la Información, 29(3). https://www.doi.org/10.3145/epi.2020.may.15

Samper, E. (2021). Les mentides estan dissenyades per a viralitzar-se. Mètode, octubre. Retrieved from https://metode.cat/noticies/entrevistes/entrevista-a-esther-samper.html

Sued, G. (2020). El algoritmo de YouTube y la desinformación sobre vacunas durante la pandemia de COVID-19. Chasqui: Revista Latinoamericana de Comunicación, 145, 163-180. https://www.doi.org/10.16921/chasqui.v1i145.4335

Tandoc, E. C., Lim, Z. W. & Ling, R. (2018). Defining “Fake News”: A typology of scholarly definitions. Digital Journalism, 6(2), 137-153. https://www.doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2017.1360143

Vizcaíno-Verdú, A., de-Casas-Moreno, P. & Contreras-Pulido, P. (2020). Divulgación científica en YouTube y su credibilidad para docentes universitarios. Educación XX1, 23(2), 283-306. https://www.doi.org/10.5944/educXX1.25750

Vosoughi, S., Roy, D. & Aral, S. (2018). The spread of true and false news online. Science, 359, 1146-1151. https://www.doi.org/10.1126/science.aap9559

Wallner, C. & White, J. (2020). The far-right and coronavirus: extreme voices amplified by the global crisis. RUSI, 30. Retrieved from https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/far-right-and-coronavirus-extreme-voices-amplified-global-crisis

Wardle, C. (2018). The Need for Smarter Definitions and Practical, Timely Empirical Research on Information Disorder. Digital Journalism, 6(8), 951-963. https://www.doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2018.1502047

Weidner, K., Beuk, F. & Bal, A. (2020). Fake news and the willingness to share: a schemer schema and confirmatory bias perspective. Journal of Product and Brand Management, 29(2), 180-187. https://www.doi.org/10.1108/JPBM-12-2018-2155


Search GoogleScholar


Article Details

Special Issue: Social news diffusion: Platforms, publics, scenarios and dimensions of news sharing