Social media posts showing tap water making at-home COVID-19 antigen tests turn positive are not evidence that there is coronavirus in the water supply. The tests were never intended to be used with water, which can cause a faulty or inaccurate result. Let’s take a look at the facts.
This video, and similar rumors about at-home tests and water, gained enormous exposure online in a short amount of time — in part because they bring together three drivers of misinformation: fear-inducing claims, subject matter that requires specialized knowledge and compelling visuals. Strong emotional reactions, such as fear, can cause people to jump to conclusions without stopping to carefully evaluate accuracy or authenticity of claims, or the strength of evidence presented. It’s also easy to mistake faulty “evidence” for actual evidence online, particularly when it involves science-based claims that many people lack the expertise to evaluate. Finally, the use of video in this particular example of this rumor — in which people can watch the test turn “positive” — makes it seem even more compelling.
Here is a full copy of the video:
- “Fact Check-Home COVID-19 tests were not designed to use water and other liquids, manufacturer says” (Reuters Fact Check).
- “Social media users rack up views by wasting COVID-19 tests” (Megan Cerullo, CBS News).
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