The global spread of misinformation on spiders

Stefano Mammola*, Jagoba Malumbres-Olarte, Valeria Arabesky, Diego Alejandro Barrales-Alcalá, Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo, Marco Antonio Benamú, Tharina L. Bird, Maria Bogomolova, Pedro Cardoso, Maria Chatzaki, Ren Chung Cheng, Tien Ai Chu, Leticia M. Classen-Rodríguez, Iva Čupić, Naufal Urfi Dhiya'ulhaq, André Philippe Drapeau Picard, Hisham K. El-Hennawy, Mert Elverici, Caroline S. Fukushima, Zeana GanemEfrat Gavish-Regev, Naledi T. Gonnye, Axel Hacala, Charles R. Haddad, Thomas Hesselberg, Tammy Ai Tian Ho, Thanakorn Into, Marco Isaia, Dharmaraj Jayaraman, Nanguei Karuaera, Rajashree Khalap, Kiran Khalap, Dongyoung Kim, Tuuli Korhonen, Simona Kralj-Fišer, Heidi Land, Shou Wang Lin, Sarah Loboda, Elizabeth Lowe, Yael Lubin, Alejandro Martínez, Zingisile Mbo, Marija Miličić, Grace Mwende Kioko, Veronica Nanni, Yusoff Norma-Rashid, Daniel Nwankwo, Christina J. Painting, Aleck Pang, Paolo Pantini, Martina Pavlek, Richard Pearce, Booppa Petcharad, Julien Pétillon, Onjaherizo Christian Raberahona, Philip Russo, Joni A. Saarinen, Laura Segura-Hernández, Lenka Sentenská, Gabriele Uhl, Leilani Walker, Charles M. Warui, Konrad Wiśniewski, Alireza Zamani, Angela Chuang, Catherine Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In the internet era, the digital architecture that keeps us connected and informed may also amplify the spread of misinformation. This problem is gaining global attention, as evidence accumulates that misinformation may interfere with democratic processes and undermine collective responses to environmental and health crises1,2. In an increasingly polluted information ecosystem, understanding the factors underlying the generation and spread of misinformation is becoming a pressing scientific and societal challenge3. Here, we studied the global spread of (mis-)information on spiders using a high-resolution global database of online newspaper articles on spider–human interactions, covering stories of spider–human encounters and biting events published from 2010–20204. We found that 47% of articles contained errors and 43% were sensationalist. Moreover, we show that the flow of spider-related news occurs within a highly interconnected global network and provide evidence that sensationalism is a key factor underlying the spread of misinformation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)R871-R873
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - 22 Aug 2022

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