Global spread of misinformation on spiders

The spread of misinformation is gaining global attention as it interferes with evidence-based collective responses to (global) problems. 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 2010–2020.

We found that 47% of articles contained errors and 43% were sensationalist. Also, the flow of spider-related news occurs within a highly interconnected global network. Sensationalism likely is a key factor underlying the spread of misinformation.