India produced the largest amount of social media misinformation on COVID-19 due to the country's higher internet penetration rate, increasing social media consumption and users' lack of internet literacy, according to a new study.
The study, 'Prevalence and Source Analysis of COVID-19 Misinformation in 138 Countries', was published in Sage's International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions journal.
The study analysed 9,657 pieces of misinformation that originated in 138 countries. They were fact-checked by 94 organisations to understand the prevalence and sources of misinformation in different countries.
"Of all the countries, India (18.07 per cent) produced the largest amount of social media misinformation, perhaps thanks to the country's higher internet penetration rate, increasing social media consumption and users' lack of internet literacy," the study said.
Also, the results also showed that India (15.94 per cent), the US (9.74 per cent), Brazil (8.57 per cent) and Spain (8.03 per cent) are the four most misinformation-affected countries.
Based on the results, the study said, it is presumed that the prevalence of COVID-19 misinformation can have a positive association with the pandemic situation.
"Social media (84.94 per cent) produces the largest amount of misinformation, and the internet (90.5 per cent) as a whole is responsible for most of the COVID-19 misinformation. Moreover, Facebook alone produces 66.87 per cent of the misinformation among all social media platforms," it stated.
Earlier, the World Health Organisation had also warned that false information on COVID-19 is spreading and putting people in danger.
The WHO had urged people to make sure to double-check everything they hear with trusted sources.