CHICAGO — News that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus sparked an explosion of rumors, misinformation and conspiracy theories that littered social media feeds.
By Friday morning, nearly 30,000 Twitter users had retweeted a variety of conspiracy theories about the news, according to an analysis by VineSight, a tech company that tracks online misinformation.
The news is ripe for foreign and domestic internet instigators to exploit by pushing online disinformation about the two presidential candidates and opens the door for unwitting people to spread misinformation without realizing what they’re sharing is false, experts say.
Facebook said Friday that it immediately began monitoring misinformation around the president’s diagnosis and had started applying fact checks to some false posts.
Twitter, meanwhile, was monitoring an uptick in “copypasta” campaigns — which are attempts from numerous Twitter accounts to parrot the same phrase over and over again to inundate users with messaging — about Trump’s illness. The social media company said it was working to limit views on those tweets.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Trump and first lady test positive for coronavirus; both have ‘mild symptoms’
— Russia reports more than 9,000 new cases in a day
— Trump’s positive diagnosis sparks an explosion of rumors and conspiracy theories
— Trump has several strikes against him — age, obesity, elevated cholesterol and being male — that could put him at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus.
— Siblings, grandparents and adult children of Canadians and permanent residents are among those who will soon be exempt from COVID-19 border restrictions in Canada.
— There’s a growing number of world leaders who have been infected with the coronavirus. President Donald Trump joins British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MISSION, Kan. — Health officials in Kansas’ largest county are making it easier for older students to head back to class even as coronavirus outbreaks in schools and sports infect hundreds statewide.
Johnson County’s health department released new criteria Thursday that allow middle and high schoolers to switch to a hybrid mode in which they go in-person part of the time and learn at home the rest as long as there are safety precautions in place such as masks and daily symptoms screenings, The Kansas City Star reports. Health officials previously said that younger students could return to classrooms full-time.
The move comes as the suburban Kansas City county averaged 113 new cases each day last week, which was the third highest new case count since the pandemic began, epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuh said. And cases have been rising among children under the age of 19 and showing up in schools.
Even with many students still learning online, 104 of Johnson County’s 169 public schools, or more than 60%, have implemented at least one quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure, officials said.
“We know there