As Mr. Trump’s challenges to the election’s results have been knocked down and the Electoral College has affirmed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win, voter fraud misinformation has subsided. Instead, peddlers of online falsehoods are ramping up lies about the Covid-19 vaccines, which were administered to Americans for the first time this week.
Among their misleading notions is the idea that the vaccines are delivered with a microchip or bar code to keep track of people, as well as a lie that the vaccines will hurt everyone’s health (the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been proved to be more than 94 percent effective in trials, with minimal side effects). Falsehoods about Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist who supports vaccines, have also increased, with rumors that he is responsible for the coronavirus and that he stands to profit from a vaccine, according to data from media insights company Zignal Labs.
The shift shows how political misinformation purveyors are hopping from topic to topic to maintain attention and influence, said Melissa Ryan, chief executive of Card Strategies, a consulting firm that researches disinformation.
It is “an easy pivot,” she said. “Disinformation about vaccines and the pandemic have long been staples of the pro-Trump disinformation playbook.”