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Social media users more likely to believe conspiracies

Research indicates that people who get their news from social media are more likely to believe in such theories – and also more likely to break lockdown rules.

Researchers from King’s College London and Ipsos Mori found that some conspiracy theories were believed by quite a high proportion of the population.

In an online survey of over 2,000 people carried out in late May, 30% thought that the coronavirus was created in a lab, up from 25% in April. A similar proportion thought the true death toll from Covid-19 was being hidden by the authorities.

About 13% believed the pandemic was part of a global effort to force everyone to be vaccinated, and 8% believed there was some connection between symptoms and radiation from 5G phone masts.

In an article in the journal Psychological Medicine, the researchers from King’s College described how people who believed in conspiracy theories tended to be more dependent on social media for information and were less likely to follow official health advice.

People who had ignored official advice and gone outside despite having symptoms of the virus were also far more likely to have relied on YouTube for information.

“This is not surprising, given that so much of the information on social media is misleading or downright wrong,”

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